Preventing loss of muscle; how to feel more energized

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Q: I seem to be losing muscle mass. I am 58. What can I do to make my muscles stronger and healthier? — Janice G., Springfield, Massachusetts

A: Around age 30, the signals in your body that build up muscle (the anabolic response) begin to fade and the signals to reduce the size of the muscle (the catabolic response) become the stronger messenger. As a result, less muscle is built.

But it is never too late to battle this trend and resist the decline in muscle tone and strength that can accompany aging. The best bet is a combination of aerobic activity, which increases your heart rate, strength training and good nutrition.

New research has discovered that physical activity builds and maintains strength and tone, in part, by clearing out potentially harmful, worn-out proteins from your muscles and increasing the creation of new muscle-building proteins that allow cells to function at a more youthful level. Even a single, intense, 10-minute bicycle ride helps with this clearing out and renewal.

We’re excited about our new concept — “longevity is the next disruptor” — that is based on the emerging revolution in the science of aging and longevity. It leads us to think that someday soon research may find a way to deliver this protein-based, muscle-restoring process to you to keep your muscles young for many extra decades. But until then …

n Enjoy strength training two or three times weekly for 20-30 minutes. For expert guidance, search on sharecare.com for “Strength Training — All Videos.” There are 18.

n Aerobics are most powerful when you do interval training. Your goal: 300 minutes a week. For interval routines, search for “high-intensity interval training” on Sharecare and at health.clevelandclinic.org.

Nutrition can also help fight muscle loss. The best move: Increase protein intake, mostly from plant sources such as quinoa and legumes. A study that followed over 2,900 seniors for 23 years found that those who ate the most protein were 30% less likely to become functionally impaired than those who ate the least.

 

Q: Being stuck at home has sapped my energy. I feel so lethargic. What can I do to get charged up again? — John F., New York City

A: It may seem ironic, but the more activity you do the less fatigued you’ll feel — and the less you do, the more tired you become. That was what researchers at the University of Georgia discovered when they looked at 12 studies that measured physical activity and feelings of energy. In each study, physical activity was associated with a reduced risk of fatigue. So it’s important to shake off the low-grade depression that you might have from the corona siege and get yourself to do yoga, follow an online routine for a step class, ride a stationary bicycle, do strength training with stretchy bands, or go outside and walk 10,000 steps.

Other energy boosters include:

1. Staying hydrated. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that being just 1.36% dehydrated made tasks harder to do, worsened mood, decreased the ability to concentrate and caused headache symptoms. The Cleveland Clinic advises drinking two glasses of water when you wake up in the morning to improve mood and alertness. Drink water, tea or coffee — not sugar-added beverages — to stay hydrated all day.

2. Eating frequently. Have three small meals a day — at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. — instead of two or three larger ones. And eat most of your food in your first two meals. Have a small amount of complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fat every time, to keep blood sugar steady.

3. Reducing stress. When you’re chronically stressed, your body cranks out hormones that cause an elevated heart rate and rapid breathing. Your muscles tighten; your body becomes achy; your mind races. It’s exhausting. Meditation daily can dispel stress and help you regain focus and
energy.

 

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at [email protected]

 

(c)2020 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

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