Protect Your Muscles: Why preserving muscle matters
How’s your muscle mass these days? That’s probably a question you’ve never been asked—and you probably don’t know quite how to answer it!
When health professionals talk about your “muscle,” they’re not referring to the weight of your dumbbells or whether you’re bulked up and ready for Mr. Universe. They’re simply referring to how much strength and energy you have for general physical activity.
At age 40, we all start losing muscle tissue. As muscle is lost—up to 8% every 10 years—everyday tasks and your favorite activities get tougher. While 8% may not sound like much, you’ll definitely notice it when a pickle jar is harder to open or you have to pace yourself as you climb the stairs. Plus, if you spend as little as 3 days in the hospital or 10 days being inactive due to illness or injury, you’ll lose even more vital muscle.
What can you do?
By focusing on your nutrition and getting in a small amount of exercise you can make a big difference in the amount of muscle you maintain. Our team of nutritionists recommends these ideas:
- Pack your diet with protein. Every muscle in your body depends on it! Protein-rich foods include fish, eggs, lean beef, chicken, beans, nuts, and low fat dairy. Then choose fruits and vegetables of many different colors—to help make sure you’re getting the rest of the nutrients your body needs.
- Track your diet each day for a week. Make note of how many servings you’re getting of protein, veggies, fruit, whole grains, and dairy. Then look back and decide how to fill in any gaps you might find.
- Get moving. Even just a small amount of exercise each day helps. Try walking, yoga (in a class or on DVD), swimming, or tennis. Just make sure you’ve discussed any additions or changes to your exercise routine with your doctor.
For more tips on how nutrition can help you maintain muscle, check out the other articles in the Nutrition Matters section of this blog. And, remember, you can always reach out to our expert nutritionists for one-on-one help.