Sarcopenia–The Mystery of Muscle Loss

Sarcopenia–The mystery of muscle loss is no mystery. Just look at our sedentary life styles.  Even thin people are often found to be flabby! Why is it that our population seems to either gain excess weight or lose excess weight as they go through their middle years? Don’t the opposing influences ever cancel out and leave us happily in the middle??

It turns out that we have to exercise even if we do not tend to put weight on.  Studies indicate that adults who do not strength train LOSE on average at least a half pound of lean muscle tissue each year starting at about age 25. This process of muscle tissue loss is called ”sarcopenia.” The more lean muscle you retain, the more fat and calories you burn all day and night.  Therefore, less muscle means a slower metabolism; more muscle means a faster metabolism.  This muscle loss and its effect on metabolism is one reason why most people do gain weight as they get older.  Our assimilation of caloric energy–virtually our digestion–really occurs in our muscles. Strength training not only halts this lean muscle loss but can reverse the process and make your body biologically younger.  Now they tell us that exercise also helps our brain cognition and prevents depression.  So enjoy those endorphins as you let your body play!

Professionals claim that all you need are two 20 minute slow-motion strength training sessions a week.  But for those  who can’t afford the time and funds for gyms or personal trainers, here is a link for simple exercises that can be performed at home for no cost:   http://www.moneycrashers.com/strength-training-exercises-women/

ann olson strength exercises

Strength Training Exercises

All these exercises work one or more of your muscle groups, which improves your functional strength while also increasing your metabolism. By improving your functional strength, you’ll have a greater ability to do simple tasks, such as lifting heavy boxes or moving furniture. Try doing four or more of these exercises three times a week to start.

1. Overhead Squat

  • Item Needed: A weighted gym bag
  • Muscles Worked: The overhead squat is one of the best full body exercises you can do. It mainly targets the quads, but also targets the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, shoulders, triceps, and the abdominal muscles.

How to Do It
Stand up and hold the gym bag above your head, gripping the bag at the ends. You will hold this position during the entire exercise. Keep your arms straight. Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width.

Next, thrust your hips back and begin bending your knees for the squat. Keep your back straight at all times – resist the urge to slouch. Continue descending downward, envisioning that you’re trying to sit back into a small chair.

Once your hips are parallel to your knee joints, hold the position for one second. Now, rise back up into the starting position. This is one repetition. To build strength, aim for a minimum of 5 repetitions, doing no more than 12. Once you can easily do 12 repetitions, it’s time to add weight to the bag.

If you’re unable to bring your hips parallel to your knee joints, start with wall squats to build up strength. Otherwise, not going fully parallel can place stress on your joints and injure your knees. I didn’t go parallel when I first started weightlifting and seriously injured my knee. In fact, I had to lay off lifting for two months to allow it to heal.

2. Deadlift

  • Item Needed: A weighted gym bag
  • Muscles Worked: The deadlift is arguably one of the best lower body exercises, working most of the back, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

How to Do It
Place the gym bag in front of your feet. Stand behind with both feet close to each other. Bend your knees while pushing your hips back to grab the ends of the gym bag. Make sure your back is straight.

Now bring yourself into a standing position by simultaneously straightening your back and legs. Remember to keep your back straight – do not let it slouch, as this can cause injury. Once assuming the straight stance, stick your chest out and contract your shoulder blades. This is one repetition. Do at least five repetitions to build strength and muscle. Once you can do these repetitions easily, add weight to the bag.

These are just two of their listed strength training exercises.  I personally find that gardening and landscaping gives me a good workout and lots of satisfaction.  But actual exercises are irreplaceable and make me stronger for that garden work.  Try it!

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