Muscle and Bone - Why You Need To do All You Can To Keep From Losing It

Jul 12, 2023

 by Stephen Conca


Why you need to do all you can to keep from losing it. 

As you probably know it takes less time to lose muscle than to gain it.  

Having more muscle has a powerful correlation (almost as much as VO2) to living longer.

We lose muscle strength about 2-3x's faster than we lose muscle mass. On top of that, we lose power which is our ability to produce power and speed, 2-3x's faster than we lose strength. 

The primary downfall of this is the loss of our type 2 muscle fibers.  The ONLY way to recruit your type 2 muscle fibers is with heavy resistance training or BFR (blood flow resistance).  Light weights will not do it. 

You need to move heavy resistance safely.  

In 10-year study, 4500 people ages 50 and older found those with low muscle mass were at a 40-50% greater risk of all-cause mortality.  The study revealed that it was not just the muscle mass (size) that was important, but the strength of those muscles, which is the ability to generate force.  Big muscles don’t always equate to force. 

As we age, we will naturally lose size, but we can do a lot to maintain our strength and power.  This can be a life-saving asset as we begin to age. 

In another study subjects with low muscle strength were 2x more likely to die than those with low muscle mass. Those with low muscle mass and strength along with metabolic syndrome had a 3-3.5x greater risk of all-cause mortality. 

Sarcopenia - a silent killer no one talks about 

Researchers tracked 12 healthy 67-year-olds and found that after 10 days of bed rest, the participants lost an average of 3.3lbs of muscle.  10 days of bed rest is equivalent to getting knocked off your feet due to an illness or injury.  Or it could be a 10-day vacation lying on a beach. Either way, the older we get the more inactivity will have a negative effect on our overall health.   

The medical term for this kind of muscle loss is called Sarcopenia.  Typically an individual with Sarponia will experience have 3 of the 5 conditions:  These are markers for a clinical condition called frailty. 

  1. Unintended weight loss
  2. Very low energy
  3. Low physical activity
  4. Slow walking
  5. Grip Strength 

These conditions put someone at a greater risk of balance issues and falling.  

The loss of bone density and muscle begins in synchronicity after we peak sometime in our late twenties. 

For women, the loss is accelerated once they hit menopause.  Estrogen plays a crucial role in bone strength for men and women. So women in menopause will have less estrogen in circulation, putting their skeletal structure at greater risk.  

If someone is frail, and they fall and break something (usually a hip), the outcome is usually never a good one. 

Fall statistics are scary once you reach the age of 65. Research tells us that between 15-36% of people who fall and suffer a hip or femur fracture are dead within a year.  And for those who survive, the devastation to their overall health from the bedrest can be life-altering. 

Start Making Deposits, NOW!

It is extremely difficult to put on muscle mass as we age. We must do all we can just to preserve what we have. 

We talk about this all the time with our clients.  Strength training is like putting deposits into a 401K account.  You want to retire with enough money to live a relatively comfortable life.  The same holds true for your muscle and bone. The goal is to build up enough reserve that will protect you from injuries and allow you to do what you enjoy. 

Would you rather plan ahead and save a little over time and reap the benefits of compounding interest? Or would you want to try and clamber many different retirement accounts in your mid-fifties and pray that the stock markets go your way? 

To wrap it up...

Simply put the earlier you start saving the more money you will have. The earlier you get stronger and the fitter you stay, the longer you live.

No drug or pharmaceutical intervention can even come close to the benefits of exercise.  Exercise has been so effective in protecting against the diseases of aging it has been compared to Medicine.  

You don’t need a prescription for exercise or to join a gym where you can get expert health coaching.