As we age, our muscle health begins to decline. The good news is, however, there are certain things we can do to slow that aging process down. Muscle mass declines with age, and after 50, the rate of muscle loss begins to outpace the rate of muscle gain, which is why it’s important to know what can be done to preserve and gain muscle throughout our lives.
According to Orthology, the world-class leader for aiding in recovery of physical injuries and chronic pain, there are three things we can do to help maintain muscle health as we age.
1. Practice yoga
In addition to helping improve muscle elasticity and health, yoga can alleviate symptoms of asthma, depression, and anxiety.
2. Beef up the protein
More and more studies suggest older people should eat more protein, with a focus on leaner sources.
3. Don’t skip warm up and cool down
You should be getting at least 60 minutes of exercise every day, and it’s important to warm up before and cool down after exercising to prevent muscle strains and other injuries.
Curious to learn more, we sought expert advice from Dr. Michael Neely. Here’s what he had to say in response to a few questions we had.
Cheat Sheet: What kinds of protein are recommended for maintaining muscle health?
Michael Neely: Any food of animal source will have the essential amount to synthesize protein. Vegetables, fruits and beans alone do not complete this. Therefore, Vegetarians and Vegans need to plan their diets well to consume the right combination of food to synthesize protein.
Generally: eggs (preferably egg whites), chicken, salmon, tofu, nuts, cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt are recommended.
CS: On the flip side, any proteins that men should stay away from?
MN: Steer clear of any foods that are processed/canned. Whole foods are preferred over protein supplements.
CS: Scientifically, how does getting protein into your system help with muscle health?
MN: Protein provides your system with energy, but exercise is required for muscle growth. The timing of protein intake plays an important role. High-quality protein such as meat, fish, dairy or soy consumed within 2 hours of exercise has been proven to boost muscle repair and growth.
CS: Approximately how much protein is recommended for men?
MN: Exact protein requirements depend on the overall diet. According to the US Food and Nutrition Board, men should consume 0.8 grams of protein/kg bodyweight per day (this would be approximately 56 grams). However, this is different for high end/power athletes. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, power athletes should consume 1.2-1.7 grams/kg a day, while endurance athletes should consume 1.2-1.4 grams/kg a day.
CS: What kinds of warm up and cool down exercises might you recommend?
MN: Warm-ups should start with low impact movements such as stretching, and gradually increase in intensity. Stretching before and after working out is key to preventing any injuries, regardless of type and length of workout. Cool-down exercises should aim to slowly reduce heart rate to the normal level.
CS: Any warm up and cool down specifics to keep in mind?
MN: Stretch for at least five minutes before and after any type of workout. Dynamic stretching is best, as it helps move the body parts further with each repetition and therefore reducing the risk of overuse. For cardio, walking it off is the first step of cooling down as you try to bring heart rate and blood pressure back to normal. Also, try to apply an ice pack with skin protectant, as it is a good source of anti-inflammatory and will reduce muscle soreness and swelling.