We all know that eating well, getting plenty of sleep, drinking more water and less alcohol and taking regular exercise will help to keep us fitter as we get older. But, as if aging isn’t difficult enough, as soon as you wave goodbye to forty, there’s a little something called Sarcopenia heading down the pipeline, ready to knock us off our feet.
Sarcopenia is from the Greek word meaning, “lack of flesh” and if you’re over the age of forty you may have already begun to experience this loss of skeletal muscle mass and function. Although primarily a disease of the elderly, Sarcopenia can happen much earlier. In certain conditions, such as some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis and aging, lean body mass is lost while fat mass may be preserved or even increased. There is an important correlation between inactivity and loss of muscle mass and strength which suggests that physical activity could help protect you against or help you to manage the effects of Sarcopenia.
Research has proven that after between 7 to 10 days of inactivity, the natural process of muscle shrinkage turns to Sarcopenia at which point ‘function’ and quality of life begins to become affected and we become at risk of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, falling (broken bone or other injuries), cardiovascular disease, poor sleep quality, decreased cognitive function, memory loss and more.
So, it seems that moving more is a key factor in maintaining our overall health as we get older, but what does moving more look like? American nutritionist, Amy Berger, suggests we look at our health as a three-legged stool, diet and supplementation are only two legs, movement is the critical third leg and without it the stool will fall down. She’s learnt to approach movement from three angles: moving frequently at a slow pace, occasionally moving at a very fast pace and occasionally picking up heavy stuff and putting it back down.
In her Tuit Nutrition blog, Berger states that for her body fat loss and maintenance of that loss seems to be influenced more by the food she eats than by exercise. Having once seen exercise as a chore, Berger now approaches physical movement as a pleasure, a way to feel great both physically and psychologically. It makes sense that the more muscle tissue you can maintain, the more total calories and carbohydrates the body can handle.
Of course in these Covid times going to the gym has become a thing of the past and even when we begin to ease back into normality there are still many other ways of keeping your exercise up without heading off to your local fitness centre.
Walking – take long walks on as many days a week as you can and as fast paced as you can. Move fast enough to get your heart rate up a little.
Sprinting – incorporate a few moments of sprinting into your walk. Pick a point and sprint to it. The body moves in a different way when you sprint to the way it does when you walk. And of course, the cardiovascular system is challenged more.
Lifting – whether you’re lifting cans of beans or dumbells in your kitchen or front room, or you’re back at the gym heading for the weights, lifting is a key element to include in your exercise routine.
The key is to mix it up. Berger says incorporate a little of everything in your routine: some running, some walking, some stretching, some sprinting and moving weights against gravity (including your body weight). This will engage multiple muscle groups in multiple ways. You don’t need to do it all every day. Just like with diet, it works just fine if you hit all the bases somewhat regularly over time.
Gyrotonic is a movement system that just does this. It incorporates all of these different styles of exercise including resistance training and is fun at the same time. If you’d like to find out more, why not get in touch.