Building strength and muscle is crucial to good health, especially as you age. Muscle plays an essential role in maintaining a high quality of life, reducing the risk of injury, and protecting you from falls.
Muscle goes much further than strength, balance, and physical capabilities. It helps keep your bones strong, regulate blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels, manage blood pressure, limit joint pain, and fight mild depression.
Every one of those things contributes to healthy and independent aging.
Even if you have a decent amount of muscle and are having a pretty easy time moving through life right now, it might not always be that way. If you don’t regularly use muscle, you lose it. And your body wants to lose it. Muscle is expensive, so when it’s not being used, your body gets rid of it.
To build, maintain, and support muscle, you need to continually strengthen and weight train. Using weights such as dumbbells or resistance bands two or three times per week with moderate intensity will keep muscle hanging around.
Working out, however, isn’t enough. Supplementing your workouts with a healthy, protein-rich diet and plenty of sleep is also required to build and maintain muscle.
Without protein, your body doesn’t have the tools to build muscle. And without 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, your body can’t repair and replenish muscle cells.
You can also find ways to use your muscles throughout the day. When standing at the computer or talking on the phone, you can do calf raises or leg lifts. Maybe curl that milk carton or serving bowl a few times before putting it away.
It’s understandable if the idea of adopting a strength training program is intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be.
Finding a certified professional to teach you movements and design routines for you, either in-person or through virtual platforms can lighten the learning curve and send you on your way to a stronger and more independent life.
Devon Andre holds a bachelor’s degree in forensic science from the University of Windsor in Canada and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Andre is a journalist for BelMarraHealth, which first published this article.