Quality muscle is vitally important to live your fullest life.
Why it matters: Healthy muscle serves mulitple roles in our bodies. Of course it helps us move about in our world, and it has many other important roles. Here are a few:
Glucose (sugar) metabolism. Muscle serves as the largest storage reservoir for glycogen and is responsible for removing the majority of sugar from the blood after a meal.
Fall prevention. Functioning muscle helps us to maintain our balance and protect us from falls, and it provides a layer of protection when we do fall, helping to prevent bone fractures and ligament tears.
Fatigue resistance. Strong muscles handle workloads at a lower percentage of maximum effort, which feels less strenuous. Think here of being able to walk up a couple flights of stairs on a vacation without this effort taking a toll.
A striking visual example: Take a look at the image below, which shows cross sections of the thighs of three people. The far left and far right are triathletes, age 40 and 70 years old. Notice most of the thigh is that gray material which is the muscle, and there is a thin white stripe of fat at the very edge. The middle image is from a 74-year-old sedentary man - a thick layer of white fat with a small amount of gray muscle toward the muscle. Which legs would you prefer as you age?
What we know is that while you don't have to be a triathlete to have quality muscle, you do have to have a strategy and take action to prevent muscle loss as you get older.
What you can do: Although we all lose muscle as we age, there are two main strategies to limit or slow age-related muscle loss:
Exercise. The punchline for this week is that both cardio style exercise and strength/resistance training help to maintain quality muscle. Next week I'll share a few tips regarding incorporating exercise into your life.
Eat sufficient protein. Consuming adequate protein becomes especially important as we get into our 50s and beyond. We'll be looking more at nutrition in coming weeks.
Have a wonderful week,
Dr. Topher Fox
P.S. Below are the pictures from my exam room wall which we are exploring for this email series.
Dr. Christopher FoxI am a board-certified endocrinologist in Superior, CO, and I have been in private practice since 2003. People I work with achieve success when they learn all the ingredients of healthy lifestyle and the system to consistently follow through on good intentions. I use my knowledge of endocrine science, psychology, neuroscience, and human behavior to help people make meaningful, lasting changes in their health that they can sustain long-term.