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Rejuvenate Muscle Health: 4 Things You Didn't Know About Your Muscles

Rejuvenate Muscle Health 4 Things You Didn't Know About Muscles

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Rejuvenate muscle health with these surprising, science-backed strategies.

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MAY. 27, 2021    4 MIN. READ
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They get you out of bed each morning, power playtime with your kids and carry you across race-day finish lines. But as much as you use your muscles, there's a lot about them that you probably don't know — yet.

Here's a look at four surprising, obscure and cool things to know and love about your muscles, as well as guidance around harnessing your newfound knowledge to rejuvenate muscle health from head to toe. 

1. Your Muscles May be Connected to Your Heart Health

Did you know the health and strength of your muscles provide a clue to other health risks? It's true.

A study published in The Lancet found that muscle strength – measured by grip strength – may more accurately determined the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease than systolic blood pressure. Additionally, another study suggested body composition (the ratio of muscle mass versus fat mass) is a better indicator of overall health than body mass index (BMI).

This is because your muscles do more than move you. Together, they act like an enormous organ, influencing mobility, strength, balance and even metabolism.

To start improving your muscle health, focus on strength training and muscle-building nutrition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends performing total-body strengthening activities at least twice per week. It's also a good idea to eat 25 to 30 grams of protein at every meal.

2. Exercise Causes Short-Term Damage to Your Muscles

Yes, exercise builds your muscles. But, before that, it breaks them down. When you challenge your muscles, you create tiny, microscopic tears to your muscle fibers. That damage signals your body to send amino acids (from protein) to your muscles to repair them and eventually make them stronger. Although it sounds like you're damaging your muscles by challenging them during workouts or strenuous activity, it's a healthy process — and helps you build strength.

To maximize the effectiveness of your workouts, consume 25 to 30 grams of protein after exercising, as this will help with the recovery and muscle-building process. In between tough sweat sessions focus on low-intensity activities like walking, yoga, gentle cycling and stretching. They can all help boost muscle recovery, according to the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.

3. Your Body Needs More Protein As You Age

Research has found that starting at age 40, adults may lose up to 8% of their muscle mass per decade.[i]-4 And once they hit 70, that rate can potentially double. While inactivity plays a part (and requires a stronger focus on resistance exercises), your body also becomes less efficient at using the protein you eat to fortify your muscles.

A recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from Abbott and the Ohio State University found that more than 1 in 3 adults over 50 years old don't meet their recommended protein intake. Thankfully, there are a number of creative ways to add protein to your diet.

For ideal health and muscle nutrition, try combining your daily protein with HMB. It's a natural compound that has been shown to help preserve muscle mass in healthy older adults. You can get it in trace amounts from foods such as avocados, grapefruit and catfish, but you can also find it listed alongside protein in some specialized muscle nutrition beverages.

4. Muscles Improve Your Immune Health

That's right. If you want to build a strong immune system and reduce your risk of bacterial and viral infections, don't underestimate your muscles.

Research has shown that muscle tissue plays a role in activating immune cells, and people with lower muscle and strength levels have reduced immune function.[ii] Staying active is a key to health in more ways than one.

To enhance your immune health, take a look at your overall diet and center your meals around lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans, and low-fat dairy. Together, these foods provide the micronutrients like calcium, vitamin D, iron and antioxidants that can help keep your immune system strong and rejuvenate muscle health.

[i] Grimby G, et al. Clin Physiol. 1982;3:209-218.
[ii] Nelke C, et al. EBioMedicine. 2019;49:381-388.
[ii] Baier S, et al. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr.2009;33:71-82.
[ii] Janssen I, et al. J Appl Physiol.2000;89:81-88.
[ii] Nelke C, et al. EBioMedicine. 2019;49:381-388.

 

Five Ways To Preserve Muscles As You Age

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Did you know that people over the age of 40 may lose up to 8 percent of their muscle mass per decade? And the rate of decline may double after the age of 70.

Advanced muscle loss, or sarcopenia, affects nearly 1 in 3 people over the age 50. Not only are muscles important for everyday physical tasks like picking things up, reaching for something, opening a jar or getting up off a chair, but healthy muscles are essential for organ function, skin health, immunity and your metabolism. In other words, maintaining muscle mass as you age is essential for prolonging a happy and healthy life.

"Muscle loss is the aging factor that's rarely discussed and people accept its signs, such as loss of strength and energy, as a natural part of aging," explains Suzette Pereira, Ph.D., a researcher specializing in muscle health with Abbott. "But muscle health can often tell us how we are going to age, and stay active and independent."

The good news is that with the right steps you can help prevent or slow any muscle loss. While aging is natural, muscle loss doesn't have to be inevitable.

To stay strong as you age, start following the tips below to fuel and keep muscles fit for years to come!

Stay Strong as You Age 

8 Protein-Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet

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Getting the right amount of protein in your diet is important for healthy living. Protein is in every cell in the body from our muscles, to our organs, skin and even our hormones. It helps with muscle building, strength and energy and eating enough is important to keeping your body running smoothly.

However, recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from researchers at Abbott and the Ohio State University found that more than 1 in 3 of adults over 50 years old are not getting the daily recommended amount of protein they need. And because we may begin to naturally lose muscle after we turn 40 — as much as 8 percent of overall muscle mass every decade — getting enough protein as we age is even more important. 

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