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April 2024
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Slowing the Pace of Muscle Waste

Despite Age, Weight Training Slows Muscle Loss

Regardless of age, weightlifting reduces muscle loss

Regardless of age, weightlifting reduces muscle loss

The noted poet Robert Frost once said, “In three words, I can sum up everything I know about life:  It goes on.”

How true.  No matter our condition, no matter how difficult or easy our circumstances are, life continues on.

Perhaps the best illustration of this truism is observing one’s exercise regimen once they reach their thirties and forties.

For example, I’ve been an avid exerciser since I was young, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed how I’m not as quick as I used to be, I’m not the same strapping  young lad that I was in my mid-twenties.

But what’s changed?  I’m still pretty much the same weight. I definitely eat better than I used to eat.  So why are my exercise pursuits floundering instead of flourishing?

Obviously the passage of time and age is the answer to this question, but just what is it about age that forces us to recognize our lifting limits?

Well, researchers believe they may have found the answer to that question, and the answer is written in their blood.

By this I mean that as we age, like our decrease in muscle mass, blood flow efficiency decreases as well.

Researchers affirmed this sad fact of life after testing was done on a group of active twentysomethings and sixtysomethings.  Their blood was tested prior to their having breakfast and then tested again afterward.  Each of them were then given a shot of insulin to see whether or not insulin was used differently in the participants’ bloodstream, suspecting it would be used differently depending on their age.

Just as the good doctors’ suspected, insulin was used differently, and as you may have already guessed, insulin was used more efficiently in the young folks’ bodies.

Insulin is something of a renaissance hormone – it has many roles and many talents.  One of them is in regulating how much glucose the blood feeds to the muscles.  As the researchers found, the twentysomethings had a greater blood flow and insulin response in the muscles observed, while there wasn’t much of a change observed in the older group.

The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and was performed by researchers from the University of Nottingham in England.

So, as we age, do we just have to grin and bear our depleting physiques?  Must we be resigned to the notion that we’re no longer our twentysomething selves?

Yes and no.

Yes, we do have to accept that life goes on and our strength does decrease, but we can slow the aging process though our exercise efforts.

As researchers found in a follow-up study, the older men that weightlifted regularly used insulin more efficiently and saw more muscle growth than those that didn’t lift.  In fact, the insulin response and increased blood flow was on par with the twentysomethings!

The researchers define “regular” as weightlifting three times a week.  That’s exactly my idea of “regular” as well, for I weight train three times a week (though I’ll occasionally miss a session or two due to work constraints).

So there you have it.  Life may go on, but you can make sure it goes slowly through moderate amounts of weight training every week.


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