MUSCLE – THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

What is muscle?

Muscle

Skeletal muscle is the largest organ of the human body. In a healthy person, it is estimated that 40% of the human body is composed of muscle mass.

So, why is muscle important?

Muscle

To the naked eye, the benefits of muscle mass are visible in the way we maintain our posture, balance, and move. Behind the scenes however, it act as a reservoir for essential nutrients. It is where most of our energy currency is found for the proper function of our cells. It also helps us put our sugar level in check by keeping an eye on insulin level in our blood. When we move and rev up our muscle daily, it becomes the furnace that burns the dead weight on our body, better known as fat (1).

Nature gives and Nature takes Muscle.

Muscle

However, with all its importance, we will lose it with the cruel realities of aging. At the age of 25, give or take, the process of our total developmental growth ends and we begin to decline almost immediately in every way. From age 50 onwards, this process of decline spearheaded by muscle loss continues with 1 to 2% of loss per year, with accelerated rate in later years depending on lifestyle (2).

According to the national Institute of Aging “a big culprit for losing our physical abilities as we grow older is the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength”. This loss known as Sarcopenia is age related and progressive reduction in the number and size of muscle fibers. The onset of sarcopenia leads to compromised movement, loss of balance, osteoarthritis, and accidental falls leading to a reduction in quality of life and early death. In short, as we age, muscle mass index may very well be the predictor of our longevity (3).

So, what is the solution?

Muscle

The solution is resistance or strength training. The evidence is clear that strength training is the most effective method of delaying or reversing Sarcopenia. The anti-aging effect of strength training on muscles and bones is that it helps to revers or slow down these losses by increasing bone and muscle size with overall strength. As we increase the percentage of our muscle mass on our body so do the capacity of these muscles to regulate glucose in our blood, increase protein synthesis, increase strength, improve movement capacity, and improve utilization of excess fat as energy.

Conclusion

Fitness

It is not a must, that we carry a cane to walk or move with pain under the weight of aging. Strength training, along with cardiovascular training, is a wholesome approach to addressing the bigger picture of living a longer life with function and quality. It is a matter of choice whether we age with our physical capacity and mental faculties intact. Because what we don’t use, we lose, both mentally and physically. It is for these reasons why it is “the organ of longevity”.

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