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6 Things You Didn't Know About Muscles And Aging

We lose muscle mass as we get older, but there are ways to counteract that.

Muscle matter as you age
Aug 23 2016

By Refaat Hegazi, MD, PhD, Abbott

We often rely on age to tell us about ourselves. We consider ourselves physically stronger and more vibrant earlier in life. Medical professionals use age to determine risk for certain diseases, often attributing older age to higher risk.

Refaat Hegazi, MD, PhD

But new research is showing that a person’s biological age is not the key to determining their overall health. It suggests that we should look at other factors, such as mobility, to evaluate a person’s well-being. The findings show that getting older doesn’t have to mean getting weaker. And taking on your health can start with your muscles.

While maintaining your muscles can be more challenging as you get older, science has shown that we can all be strong no matter what age. Here are six surprising things to keep in mind about your muscles and aging — for your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.

1. Looking for energy? It may be in your muscles. You may start noticing muscle loss, or some of its side effects, when you turn 40. At this age, you can start to lose 8 percent of your muscle mass per decade, which translates to roughly 25 percent by the time you turn 70.

Muscle loss can affect your strength and energy levels. One in two Americans 50 years and older who know something about muscle mass are concerned about it as they age, according to a new survey by AARP and Abbott.

2. Muscles are more than just biceps. Having muscle is more than just strength and how you look on the outside. Muscles play a role in your body’s movement, balance and posture. That’s why when we lose too much muscle, it can cause things like falls or fractures. Muscles also play a role in your metabolism and facial structure and how your body consumes and uses oxygen when you are exercising.

3. Investing in your muscles now can help when times get tough. If you or a loved one has ever been sick or been in the hospital, you have likely seen or experienced the effect of losing muscle without realizing it due to things like lack of activity, inadequate nutrition or the disease or condition itself.

If your muscles are broken down and weaker, it can be more of a challenge to fight off and recover from a health setback. That’s why muscle health is like a savings account — you must build up a reserve that you can rely on in times of need to help you get back on your feet quicker. Fortunately, there is a surefire way to help keep your muscle health account full, in addition to exercise: proper nutrition.

To read the rest of the tips from Dr. Hegazi, visit the full article at Next Avenue.

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