When it comes to ageing, many people think of wrinkles, grey hair, and a slower metabolism. However, the decline in muscle mass that occurs with age is equally important, and is often overlooked. American physician Dr Frank Lipman says maintaining muscle mass is crucial for overall health and longevity, and calls it “muscle currency”.
As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass and strength. This process can begin as early as age 30 and accelerates after 50. The rate of muscle loss varies from person to person, but on an average, people can lose 3-8 per cent of their muscle mass each decade. This loss of muscle mass can lead to a number of negative health outcomes, including decreased mobility, increased risk of falls, and a reduced ability to perform everyday tasks.
Muscle currency and longevity
So why is muscle currency so important for longevity? For one, muscle mass is closely tied to metabolism. Muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning it requires energy to maintain itself. This energy requirement, in turn, increases overall calorie burn and helps prevent weight gain and obesity. Additionally, muscle tissue helps regulate blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, which is important for preventing Type 2 diabetes.
Muscle currency also plays a critical role in maintaining overall physical function and independence. Strong muscles are necessary for performing basic daily activities, like walking, climbing stairs and lifting objects. Muscle mass is also associated with improved balance and coordination, which can help prevent falls and injuries.
Another key benefit of muscle currency is its impact on bone health. Muscle tissue is responsible for applying force and stress to bones during movement, which helps stimulate bone growth and maintenance. In fact, regular weight-bearing exercise has been shown to improve bone density and reduce the risk of fractures in older adults.
Muscle currency is important for overall longevity because it helps protect against chronic diseases. Studies have shown that individuals with higher muscle mass have a reduced risk of a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. This may be because muscle tissue produces a number of beneficial hormones and cytokines that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Maintaining muscle currency
So how can you maintain muscle currency as you age? The most effective way is through regular strength training and resistance exercise. These types of exercises are specifically designed to build and maintain muscle mass and strength, and can be done with free weights, resistance bands, or even bodyweight exercises.
Additionally, it’s important to consume a diet that is rich in protein, which is essential for muscle growth and repair. Either way, if you are a plant-based eater or an animal protein eater, protein provides us the building blocks to grow and maintain new muscle tissue. Aim to include protein with every meal, and choose lean sources like chicken, fish, tofu, and legumes.
But most importantly, don’t forget about the importance of rest and recovery. Adequate sleep, hydration and stretching are all important for maintaining healthy muscles, and preventing injury.
Muscle currency is a critical component of overall health and longevity. Maintaining muscle mass and strength through regular exercise and a healthy diet can help prevent age-related decline in physical function, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and promote a long and healthy life. No matter your age today, it is time to start looking at how you want to be feeling and living in your later years.
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