Like many of the more unwelcome, age-related changes in our lives, muscle loss usually begins in our thirties. According to Harvard Health Publishing, we lose three to five percent of our muscle mass per decade after we turn thirty. And as we begin losing muscle mass, our muscle strength, shape, and function goes with it.
6 Tips to Keep from Losing Muscle Mass
Though the loss of muscle mass is in many ways inevitable, there are a few things you can do to retain and gain muscle mass as you age. It takes work, of course, and discipline, but these strategies do work when sustained over time.
- Get active – So simple, so true. As we age, the frequency and intensity if our activity tends to wane. And returning to regular activity after a period of inactivity can be even more challenging. Still, inactivity and sedentary lifestyles are top contributors to the loss of muscle mass as we age. Step one: get out and get active!
- Get your protein – It can be difficult enough to consume enough protein. The challenge increases as we age, especially for men who suffer from anabolic resistance. Though meat, eggs, and milk are the best sources of protein, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives. A good rule of thumb is one gram of protein per pound of body weight daily.
- Round out your diet – Protein intake is certainly not enough. Getting the the right nutrition is essential to all aspects of health, including the prevention of muscle loss. Keep your diet colorful, diverse, and free of excess sugar and fats if you want to stave off muscle loss (oh, and drink lots of water, of course).
- Embrace strength training – It’s time to dust off those dumbbells! Strength training is a staple of muscle building for a reason. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to modify strength training exercises to accommodate all levels of skill and conditioning. Even simple bodyweight exercises like pushups, pullups, and free squats can do wonders. Aim to work in strength training at least two times a week.
- Be powerful – Strength training is one thing, but power is wholly another. Be explosive! From time to time, we recommend shortening up repetitions on your sets and increasing the speed and explosiveness of your strength exercises. Why? Because you’ll recruit more muscle fibers and increase lean muscle mass. Read: 3 Tips for Building Fast Twitch Muscles
- Get enough sleep – We harp on the importance of adequate sleep a lot on the AlterG blog for a good reason: getting a solid seven to eight hours can help maintain balance in blood sugar, blood pressure, and hormone regulation, all of which can help you retain and build muscle mass.
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Why It’s Important to Retain Muscle Mass
As noted, the research is clear that we will gradually lose muscle mass as we age. It’s important to combat this loss by committing to some of the principles listed above.
Retaining muscle mass is essential to maintaining healthy metabolic function as we age. It also can also provide the strength and mobility needed to remain independent and prevent chronic diseases. Your muscles are important—it’s time to start taking care of them!