Muscles are like the scaffolding for our bodies – keeping our foundations, or skeleton, protected from all sorts of things. Losing muscle, however, is a natural part of ageing. In fact, as we age, we lose about 3-5% of muscle mass every 10 years. BUT that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do about it! Healthy ageing is all about keeping ourselves in tip top condition as the number of candles on our birthday cake goes up. Try adopting some these to keep your muscles healthy:
You know the saying – use it or lose it! Resistance exercise is excellent for muscle health. By providing resistance to your muscles (pushing and pulling opposite muscle groups equally), muscle tissue is stimulated to build and generate greater force over time.
Make sure that every time you exercise, you warm up, cool down, and stretch. This will help blood flow to muscles, joint flexibility, overall range of movement, and prevention of injury. Essentially, this encourages muscle strength and health by preparing your muscles for movement, allowing them to cool down slowly, and avoid soreness.
As you age, it becomes especially important to make sure that you’re getting enough protein, fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Aim for a serve of complete protein with each meal, it's particularly important for maintaining muscle, as well as a generous couple serves of vegetables or a serve of fruit. Nutrients, like magnesium, are also extremely important to muscle health – these nutrients can be found in dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, legumes, and more.
Drink Plenty of Water
Being well hydrated not only hydrates your muscles, but it also helps them work more efficiently. One sign that your muscles aren’t getting enough fluid is through cramping. Be aware of how much you drink - the older we get, the more susceptible we are to dehydration as the 'thirst centre' in our brain becomes less active. Make sure to drink 8 glasses of water a day.
When you’re fast asleep is when your body has a chance to repair and replenish energy stores, including your muscles. Not getting enough sleep may prevent muscle building, so make sure you aim for 7-8 hours each night.