January 29, 2023

Muscle Is the Armour of Living Well

Muscle Is the Armour of Living Well

When we last chatted, the subject of muscle and the raw materials needed to make muscle, was the topic. And we identified protein as king…or queen in my case.  So if your protein intake is the clay on the potter’s wheel, then what do we do to mold that clay?  Resistance training.

For the sake of review, here are some facts first per the CDC:

  • Falls are now the leading cause of injury and death among the older Americans.
  • Reduced muscle strength, decreased activity, more severe chronic health conditions, and increased use of prescription medications are risk factors among older Americans.
  • Fall injury rates are seven times higher for older adults with poor health than those with excellent health.
  • Muscle loss in called sarcopenia and it begins as early as age 30.

This does NOT have to be your story. You have a choice. But choice requires action.

If you played along with the last column then you began paying attention to your protein intake and you started to take steps to increase it. At 51, I aim for one gram of well-sourced protein per pound of my optimal body weight.

Now to mold the clay.

I aim to strength train with weights, bands, and body weight 5 to 6 times per week. But I have been doing this for a while. Where are you in regards to making muscle? Now take it up just one click. Do not aim for perfection. It robs you of progress every time.

If cardio is your main choice for exercise or you spend most of your day sitting, you can build strength into your day by adding push-ups, rows, body weight squats, planks, bridges, dead bug, a carry, etc. with body weight and eventually added weight to the end of your walk/run/spin class or by attaching this new action to an existing one like your morning coffee.  Anchoring a new and hopeful habit to an existing one is a bonafide way of making it stick.

A quick google search will show you proper description and form on each functional movement. Using a mirror can help you. The goal is to work safely and with an eye for good form.  We don’t want to rob Peter to pay Paul. Good form is of the utmost importance to avoid injury.

If you have the means, nothing beats being trained by a professional. You can find personal trainers privately and at gyms and studios. This choice takes a larger outlay of resources, but the one-on-one attention can be worth it especially if you are new to this or have some significant movement limitations. 

You can also be under the watchful eye of a professional in small groups and in the boutique studio setting. These two options are less expensive than one-on-one and bring the benefits of exercising with others which is a huge mood booster and a great way to build community…two more ways to increase your health quotient.

When considering if moving some of your resources to things like trainers, gyms, and studios makes sense, know that we pay either way. Per the CDC, physical inactivity costs the nation $117 billion a year for related health care. And my guess is the latter expenditure is a lot less comfortable, fun, or optimistic and generally requires those you love to come alongside you and be part of your care.

Muscle is the armor of living well into your golden years. It strengthens you from slip and falls, increases your resting metabolic rate (ability to burn calories), guards you against type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s among other metabolic disease. And when in comes to muscle the “golden years” begin at age 30. So let’s get at it…one rep at a time.

Meghan Kinsey is Founder, Owner, and Health Coach at Motivate.® Barre•Cardio•Nutrition in Amesbury and Rowley. She is a resident of Newburyport and has raised her three sons here for the past 20+ years.

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