Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Death, Taxes and Sarcopenia

We have always heard that two things in life are constant: death and taxes. Well, now you can add sarcopenia to the mix. Sarcopenia is a Greek word meaning, "poverty of flesh." Basically it's a degenerative loss of muscle mass due to aging. It will happen to all of us but there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Research has demonstrated that with adequate nutritional intake - especially protein - coupled with a consistent strength training program - you can build muscle tissue even as you age.

We know that as early as 25-30 years old, we start to lose lean tissue (muscle) at the rate of about 1/2 pound a year. I know, it does not sound like much, but look at it from this perspective, over the course of ten years this equates to a loss of 5 pounds. Now, jump forward a few decades and continue to add this muscle loss with a gain of about 1-1.5 pounds of body weight a year and you start to get the picture.
This begins to "stress" heart function, metabolism, bone, muscle and joint strength, to name a few.

So, if your someone who currently does not do any strength training - start this week. If your someone who is a runner or a big aerobic person - fine - but add a few strength training sessions to your routine and stay consistent with it and most importantly challenge your muscles. In my opinion - and there is research out there to justify this - get your daily dosage of one or the other or a combination of the two (i.e. circuit weight training) about 5-6 times a week. For example, here is a typical week for me:

Monday - Bike, Row and then a long hike on my treadmill (with a weighted back-pack)

Tuesday - Power Yoga class

Wednesday - "Active rest" (or circuit weight training class at Koko Fitness)

Thursday - Dynamic Warm-up and then 20-30 minutes of strength training

Friday - Repeat Monday's workout (using a Polar heart rate monitor)

Saturday - Dynamic Warm-up and then 20-30 minutes of strength training

Sunday - Hike the Blue Hills followed by a long walk on the beach
(Note: there are some wks that I may take 2 days off depending on how I feel)

The keys for me are: moving for 30-60 minutes at least 5 days a week, making sure that I stress my muscles via strength training 2-3x/wk

On the nutritonal side of things I try to add some protein to each meal that I have throughout the day. By adding the right mix of protein and carbohydrates at each meal (and snacks) I know that my blood sugar levels will stay elevated and I'll have sustained "energy" throughout the day. My tip here - and it works for weight loss - is to stop eating after 8 PM.

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