Use it or Lose it
Did you know that by 2050 it is predicted that the number of people over 65 years old will exceed those less than 15 years old for the first time in human history? Currently, 92% of Americans over 65 years of age report having one or more chronic diseases (high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and/or stroke). I don't know about you, but I don't want to just live a long life, I want to live a high QUALITY, active and independent life.
We have outpaced our genes. Humans were designed to move, and food used to be scarce. Modern advancements in technology has allowed us to communicate and travel more efficiently, but we spend an unacceptable amount of time sitting and eating more than is biologically necessary. Our bodies can't adapt to these changes fast enough causing us to gain weight, lose muscle and become sick. So, what can we do about this?
For starters, we can take a look at our diet which consists of way more processed and "non" foods than ever. This is a huge subject in and of itself, so I'll dive into this another day. We can also reduce the amount of time we spend sitting and improve our strength. Why is strength important? In a nut shell, the more muscle mass we can preserve, the greater chance we have of living a longer life.
In the following video, Dr. Brendan talks about Sarcopenia, a disease involving age related wasting of muscle, and the connections with other diseases, including cancer and diabetes. We lose 3-8% of our muscle mass each decade following the age of 30. Loss of strength and power in muscles causes loss of balance and more incidents of falling related injuries as we age. When we can no longer perform "activities of daily living" like getting out of a chair, picking things up from the floor or lifting something over our heads, we will lose our independence.
Can muscle wasting be reversed? The good news is YES! In a 12 week study of individuals over 55 (mean age 63) performing bodyweight or weight training 3 times per week showed a 3% improvement in muscle mass. It may not sound like a big number, but when you consider that's the same amount you can lose over a decade, it becomes impressive.
Changes in lifestyle to include both cardiovascular and strength training, like our Vitality Program, is critical if we want to keep our muscles strong as we age. Dr. Brendan summarizes this by saying "So use it or lose it because muscle matters and only the strong survive".
Well said Dr. Brendan.
Dr Brendan Egan is a University College Dublin (UCD) lecturer in sport and exercise science in the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, whose TEDxUCD 2014 talk is entitled 'Muscle Matters'.