Tag Archives: Sarcopenia

Fitness over 50 Beginners – Try Resistance Bands

Fitness Over 50 - Resistance BandsIf you’re over 50 and either new to the idea of working out or haven’t been in a gym in years I have the perfect solution to getting you started on the path to getting in shape and fighting the inevitable muscle and coordination loss of sarcopenia that is just a natural art of aging.

Resistance bands or exercise bands as some people call them are great for resistance training at almost any level but especially for the beginner. Just some of the benefits are:

  • No gym required – You can get a workout just as effective as a gym workout without leaving home. This will certainly save you time and provides you with privacy and the luxury of scheduling your fitness routine around your lifestyle.
  • Low Cost – Many resistance bands can be purchased for less than $20. I recommend buying a few different ones, they come in different thicknesses to give you different levels of resistance. You could even throw in an instructional DVD and still come in under $50 – $60. I know some gyms that charge that or more a month.
  • Portable – Resistance bands  can be folded up and put in a small hand bag, carry all, or even fit in a glove compartment. Just right for maintaining your routine while traveling.
  • Versatility – These simple little things can perform HUNDREDS of different exercises that when done correctly and with proper form provide you with the same resistance as weights. Your muscles don’t know the difference between weights and bands, it’s all in the amount of tension and positioning of the bands. That’s why I suggest getting a pack of varying thicknesses.
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Aerobics or Resistance, Which is Best?

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Best Exercise For Over 50 – Aerobics or Resistance?

Often the question comes up about what type of exercises are best over 50 years old. For decades the belief was that aerobics that worked the cardiovascular and respiratory systems were the best. While there is no disputing the benefits of aerobics new studies show that resistance or weight training is more important in fighting sarcopenia, the ravages of aging that decrease our coordination, creates wrinkles and sagging skin and causes stooped posture.

For these reasons I like to suggest that a combination of the two is the best exercise plan for those over 50. This is not as difficult or time consuming as it may seem to be and the rewards are terrific. I had been trying several different routines for a couple of years before I stumbled across this and although by then I was in moderately good condition my workouts had become boring and I dreaded going to the gym.

After combining aerobics with resistance my time in the gym became fun again and I was finally able  to lose those last 5 or 7 pounds that I wanted to and that had been so elusive up till then. As I said I “stumbled” on this accidentally because I just wanted to change things up a bit but after I saw the results I did some research and found that what I was doing is actually recommended by many experts in the medical and fitness fields as the best way to combat aging.

I use a variation of interval training. Interval training involves short burst of moderately intense exertion like jogging, enough to get the heart rate up, followed by active “rest periods” like walking. You don’t actually rest but you lower your rate of exertion to a comfortable level. This is followed by another short burst of intense exertion. These are typically done in cycles of 1 minute exertion followed by 2 minute rest until you can work up to 1 minute cycles of each then 2 minutes exertion and 1 minute rest and so on.   It’s been shown that 15 minutes of this type of exercise gives you the same workout as a 30  minute routine using the regular method of 30 minutes of constant motion. This cuts your time in the gym in half!

My variation on this adds resistance or weight training to the “rest” cycle. Instead of walking I jump on an exercise machine or grab a barbell and do a little resistance training while my heart rate slows down. Now I’m able to jog at a nice pace for about 5 minutes before my heart rate gets to aerobic level (about 123 bpm for me) and then I do 5 minutes of resistance with moderately heavy weights. Nothing heavy, don’t need to because my muscles are already somewhat stressed from the jogging.

This has kept my workouts fun and eliminated the monotony. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

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Sarcopenia – The Keys to Reversing the Signs of Aging

In the previous post about aging I covered sarcopenia, the term that scientist use when discussing the loss of muscle mass, stooped posture and slowed uncoordinated movement that often besets older people. This is the combined result of biological changes in the body that include a slowing of synthesis of needed proteins, a loss of the hormones testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone) and the dieing off of neurons that the body uses to stimulate the muscles to action.

According to a USDA website these normal aging processes begin to occur at around the age of 45 when we start to lose about one percent of muscle mass per year. The loss is accelerated at the age of around 60.

Leading a sedentary life will make the effects of sarcopenia worsen as we grow older. This has been proven over the years by tests performed by NASA who noticed “old age” type symptoms of otherwise very fit astronauts who returned from long periods in space where their movement and exercise where extremely limited.

Doctors and scientist have discovered  that sarcopenia and the  muscle degradation that the astronauts faced have  a common cure: resistance training . Doctors have long recommended at least 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise like jogging or walking. This kind of exercise is great for the cardiovascular system, it may even add a little muscle, but resistance training that requires the use of weights to build muscle is what is needed to have any real gains. Multiple  studies since the late 1990s point to resistance training  as the best  tool against sarcopenia, many physical therapists and doctors  are advising resistance training  over aerobic exercise.

Beginning resistance training in mid-life delays and reduces the appearance of sarcopenia later and  one study showed that elderly people aged 78 to 84 who went on a program experienced an average increase in protein synthesis of 182 percent. Another study, funded by the USDA, found that elderly participants who trained  for 45 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks saw an average increase of 32 percent for muscle fiber and a 30 percent increase in strength.In effect, reversing the signs of aging!

Exercises for Fitness Over 50

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Aging Is Inevitable – Or Is It Really?

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If you’re over 50 your fitness depends on many factors,  some we can control and unfortunately some we can’t. Many of the ones that we have no control over are hereditary, they just “run in the family”. These would be things like heart disease, diabetes and even obesity. One thing beyond everyone’s ability to do anything about though regardless of who their parents are is aging. Or is it really?

As the body ages it sometimes tends to stoop, the skin begins to sag, movement can become slower and uncoordinated. This is all a result of loss of muscle mass, a condition known as sarcopenia. For most of the history of mankind these traits were considered a given. Part of the aging process and nothing could be done about it. Luckily today research upon research has determined that sarcopenia or at least profound sarcopenia is NOT inevitable.

True, there are some contributing factors of sarcopenia that are still beyond our reach such as disease and environmental factors but as it pertains to getting older the main causes that we CAN affect are hormone changes, protein deficiency and motor unit restructuring.

Muscle is made up of proteins. The body is in a constant state of trying to reach a balance between making more protein and using what protein there is available for energy. These processes are called synthesis and metabolism respectively.

The body can produce some proteins itself by converting amino acids. Other needed proteins cannot be made by the body and are acquired from outside sources, these are called “essential proteins” and are derived from the foods that we eat.

As we age, withstanding disease or trauma, we never stop metabolizing proteins but we do steadily lessen the ability to synthesize our own internally. It is thought that this is due to the decrease in hormones testosterone and HGH or human growth hormone. This is where protein and hormone loss contributes to the aging process.

Motor Unit Restructuring happens when the signaling mechanisms (motor neurons) that control the muscles start to die off. There are two types of these neurons, ones that control fast movement and ones that control slower movement. It seems that the ones that control fast movement die first, when this happens the other slower neurons step in and take their place. This is good because other-wise the muscle would die too, but it does noticeably slow the reaction time between thought and movement. It also can cause slooped posture and sagging skin.

Next time I will talk about ways to minimize or reverse the effects of sarcopenia.

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