New Delhi: Muscles are the largest component of your total lean body mass (or LBM), which is everything that makes up your body except for fat. In fact, your muscles usually account for 50 percent to 60 percent of your body weight. The role of your muscles goes beyond simply allowing you to move and maintain balance. Healthy muscles are also essential for your physical strength, organ function, skin integrity, immunity, and wound healing. That’s why healthy muscles are pivotal for enjoying and achieving all of life’s possibilities as you age.
Muscle health can often tell you how you are going to age and stay active and independent. So, it is important to understand what muscle health is and how it affects your life. Dr. Irfan Shaikh, Head, Medical & Scientific Affairs at Abbott’s Nutrition business sheds light on things you should know about your muscles and muscle health:
Muscle mass as you age
Starting at age 40, adults can lose up to 8 percent of their muscle mass per decade. After 70 years old, that rate may double. In fact, muscle loss is also accelerated due to poor nutrition, illness, and chronic diseases. Muscle loss can impact your energy levels and mobility, increase the risk for falls and fractures, and even slow recovery from illness or surgery. You may move easily and maintain your body robust with healthy muscles. They support your daily activities like playing sports, dancing, walking your dog, swimming, and other things that require physical movement. Your joints are better able to function when you have strong muscles. You may be more prone to knee injuries if, for example, the muscles surrounding that knee become weak. Muscle health also helps with keeping your balance.
Muscles and immune health
If you want to build a strong immune system and reduce your risk of bacterial and viral infections, don’t underestimate your muscles. Muscle tissue plays a role in activating immune cells, and people with lower muscle and strength levels have reduced immune function. To enhance your immune health, take a look at your overall diet and center your meals around lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans, and low-fat dairy. Together, these foods provide micronutrients like calcium, vitamin D, iron, and antioxidants that can help keep your immune system strong and rejuvenate muscle health.
Muscle loss and recovery
Your muscles are a critical source of strength and energy as you recover. When you’re sick or hospitalized, your body often doesn’t get enough of the nutrients it needs to recover, such as protein, causing it to break down muscle tissue. This kind of muscle loss is associated with delayed recovery from illness, slowed wound healing, and diminished quality of life.
Identifying loss of muscle mass
The good news is that grip strength is an easy way to assess your overall muscular strength – just by squeezing an orange or noticing the firmness of your handshake you can determine your muscle strength. A chair challenge test is also an easy way to test your muscle strength. The time you take to do 5 sit-ups on a chair of approx. height 43 cms (1.4 feet) can tell you your muscle age. For example, for males between 40 and 50 years of muscle age, it should take about 6.8 to 7.5 seconds and for females, the time taken should be 6.9 to 7.4 seconds to perform the test. To know more, one can visit www.muscleagetest.in to know the muscle age.
Rebuilding muscle and strength
Losing muscle is natural, but its rate of progression and negative effects don’t have to be. You can take simple measures to slow down muscle loss to help support a healthy lifestyle and continue doing the things you love to do. The best part is that it’s never too late to regain muscle, and strength or to combat the long tail symptoms of infection due to muscle loss. It can be achieved through a combination of strength exercises and a complete, balanced diet with sufficient protein & nutrients.
On the nutritional front, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B3 are some key nutrients to maintain muscle health. Regular check-up of muscle strength is essential as well. You can test your locomotive ability and find out how good your muscle strength is & know what to do earlier to help prevent and delay muscle loss & strength.
Muscle plays an important role in many aspects of life, and there are plenty of effective ways to test and improve your strength. Talk to your doctor about healthy options for preserving muscle loss.