How old would you be, if you had no idea how old you really were?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Extending Our Stay on the Planet - Part 4 Muscle Mass

Am easily distracted. Have wandered away from the blog for a while. Temporary change of venue now as we are off the mountain and down in the Arizona valley where a high of 95˚F is a cool day.

Here is what I know about muscle mass. Loss of muscle mass is one of the key signs of aging. The more you sit, the more likely you are to lose muscle mass. When you lose muscle mass not only do you lose strength, but your metabolism slows and muscle mass is replaced by fat.

The good news is that studies *show that even people in their nineties can increase muscle mass in relatively short periods of time (8 to 12 weeks) with exercise routines. And those revived muscles mean faster metabolism, more strength, better mobility, and better balance.

So what do we need to do?

You don't need to be Jack LaLane, but he's a pretty good example of somebody, who's older than dirt, who still keeps himself in pretty good shape. Get up and walk for starters. Do some stretching. Start working out with weights. None of this needs to be, nor should be, extreme. Start easy and increase the activity and or the weights as you go along. The minute you get up off your butt the picture starts to brighten.

Currently I am a very happy camper. At home in the mountains we have a pretty good assortment of dumbbells, and free weights. We also have a hand-me-down home gym thing with weights and pulleys called a Hard Core Gym. But, here in Tucson, where we will be for the next several months, I immediately joined LA Fitness, where I hang out in the morning and play racquetball with other old salts, and then work out using the weight machines and treadmills. And, there is a very nice pool for lap swimming.

Am also riding one of my bikes here in Tucson, where roads are paved and relatively flat, and most automobile drivers are aware of and courteous to cyclists. This is the first that I have ridden since my leg was amputated, and I am having a great time. In my youth, (40's and 50's) I was a strong rider, sometimes covering a 100 miles a day. Now I'm starting again from scratch, five miles this morning, but that's OK.

No doubt about it, hanging on to muscle mass improves our chances of sticking around and stay in motion a bit longer.

Want more muscle? Keep moving. Make a plan that works for you.

If you have time and funds you might like a gym. A place like LA Fitness is more or less reasonable. $149 one time sign up then about $30/month. At the place I go you'll find everyone from bulging, ripped, tattooed body builders to some old salts who almost shuffle from machine to machine, and everyone in between. They have aqua fitness sessions that fill the pool with golden agers. Everyone is friendly and helpful.

Funds lean? Time short? No access to a gym or physical rehab center? Don't let these very real excuses stop you. Remember this is a life and death matter. Find a way to move and stretch on a regular basis. Get on line and look for exercises you can do at home with little or no equipment. Get out and walk. Walk in the mall. There are ways and when you are ready you will find them.

*Protecting Muscle Mass as You Age
*The Physiology of Aging: What You Can Do to Slow or Stop the Loss of Muscle Mass