Ageing is inevitable, but that does not mean that we can’t age well. To age well means maintaining our quality of life, physically, mentally and emotionally.
The physical aspect can be challenging as we naturally lose 3-5% of muscle mass annually from our 30s and on average, adults lose a quarter of their muscle mass by 70 years of age. This age-related progressive, generalised loss of muscle together with a decline in strength, also known as sarcopenia, results in us being weaker and less active.
Sarcopenia can have serious consequences, such as impaired immunity, increased risk of infections, slowed healing, thinning of skin and difficulty in simple daily activities like climbing stairs or rising from a chair, increasing the risk of falls, fractures and even death.
Just because we lose muscle mass doesn’t mean that it is gone forever. Good nutrition and regular physical activity or muscle toning will rebuild muscles and slow down these changes, so that we can stay active and mobile for longer even through our twilight years.
The power of protein
A protein-loaded diet plays an important role in building muscle mass. When protein is consumed, the body breaks down protein into amino acids to create the simple building blocks of muscle. In older adults, there is a higher requirement of daily protein at about 1g/kg body weight or more in order to maintain good muscle health. This is due to anabolic resistance, where a higher amount of dietary protein is required to stimulate an equivalent level of muscle synthesis of a young adult.
Animal sources (meat, eggs and milk) are considered the best sources of protein, as they provide the proper ratios of all the essential amino acids. Stay away from red and processed meat to avoid high levels of saturated fat and additives. Instead, opt for healthier choices, such as lean chicken, fish fillet, plain Greek yoghurt and beans.
When it gets challenging to have sufficient protein in a typical carbohydrate-heavy meal in Singapore, protein powders offer a convenient source of supplemental protein. One scoop of powder gives about 30g of protein and can be added to meals and shakes.
On the labels, look out for leucine, an amino acid which has been shown to be a potent muscle protein synthesis stimulator, especially when co-supplemented with vitamin D in older adults with sarcopenia.
It’s not all about building mass. It’s equally important to build strength and power in the muscles. A good way to improve overall muscle power is to start with the legs and abdominal core, as they are primarily responsible for mobility and balance.
Doing quick movements against resistance can be an effective means of training power. An example is when rising from a seated position, try to do this quickly, without assistance. When climbing stairs, push off a step as fast as possible and increase the number of such steps with time.
Progressive resistance training is recommended as the first-line intervention for older adults with sarcopenia by the International Clinical Practice Guidelines for Sarcopenia. A program of at least three months duration with at least 2 sessions a week can lead to improvements in strength, gait speed and muscle mass. Get doctors and trained fitness personnel (physiotherapists, fitness trainers) to draw up a suitable and customised routine to prevent or treat age-related muscle loss.
Muscle fatigue during active voluntary repetitions can be a limiting factor in building up power. An option to overcome bodily limits is when muscle meets magnet. Functional Magnetic Stimulation (FMS) technology can deliver electromagnetic energy to directly induce contractions in muscles for effective strengthening and toning of core muscles in the abdomen and lower limbs.
At 50 000 muscle contractions in 30 minutes, this rate is far beyond what human capacity can do. In addition to a positive effect on muscle training, Functional Magnetic Stimulation (FMS) technology in Tesla Body Gym improves blood circulation, reduces muscle inflammation and spasm and rehabilitates muscles and nerves.
Why not combine personal resistance training with FMS technology, found in Tesla Body Gym, for a synergistic effect on muscle strengthening and toning?
Aging with grace and strength can start today.