Category Archives: Aging Muscles
By Linda Searing,
Mediterranean-style eating seems to improve health in later life
THE QUESTION Do midlife eating habits affect how healthy people will be as they age?
THIS STUDY analyzed data on 10,670 women, most in their late 50s and generally healthy. Over the next 15 years, their mental and physical functioning and dietary patterns were assessed periodically. Those whose diets most resembled Mediterranean-style eating — more plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables and nuts), whole grains and fish, less red and processed meats, and moderate amounts of alcohol — had about a 40 percent greater chance of living beyond age 70 and doing so healthily than those whose diets were least like the Mediterranean. Aging healthily meant having no major chronic diseases, no physical disabilities and no cognitive impairment.
WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? People of middle age, especially women. A Mediterranean-style diet, so-named for the region where it has been the dominant eating pattern for centuries, has been shown to improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels, protect against heart disease and possibly lower risk for cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
CAVEATS Dietary data came from the women’s responses on periodic questionnaires. Most of the women were white; whether the findings apply to other races or to men remains unclear.
FIND THIS STUDY Nov. 5 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.
LEARN MORE ABOUT the Mediterranean diet at www.heart.org.
Learn about healthy aging at www.mayoclinic.com.
The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment’s effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.
by Hesh Goldstein
(NaturalNews) Ever since I was a kid growing up in Newark I centered on sports. It started with playing all kinds of running games, then punch ball, then stick ball, then varsity sports in high school (football, swimming and track) and college (freestyle, butterfly and individual medley swimming), then County touch football leagues, then Wing Chun martial arts, and now three softball leagues – 70 and older, 50 and older and 20 and older – racewalking, stand-up paddling, weight and cardio training, hiking, teaching women’s self defense classes and of course, still swimming. The problem – I ain’t no spring chicken anymore (in my mid 70s) and can’t do it like I used to.
Recently, there was an article in our Hawaii newspaper that was reprinted from the Chicago Tribune and written by a Julie Deardorff that really got my attention. It talked about how tweaking workouts to fit age will improve one’s health.
So, if that article never made it to your newspaper and you are getting older and still working out, this article is a keeper.
“In her late 20s, Lori Popkewitz Alper loved the intense workouts at her Boston gym. But as her life and her changed so did her fitness repertoire.
During pregnancy, Alper found yoga. Soon she was pushing a jog stroller or hauling children in a double-wide bike trailer. Now 47, Alper has returned to some of the high-impact routines of her youth, but her approach has matured.
Workout programs are like 401(k)s – they need to be rebalanced over the decades, said fitness expert Tom Holland.
Four basic-yet-effective exercises – a squat, pushup, bicep curl and abdominal crunch – should remain in your program as long as you can perform them correctly.
You may have to modify them slightly as you age, not going as far on a squat for example, but you keep them in as long as you can.
As the body ages, it naturally begins to fall apart with some functions breaking down faster than others.
After age 20, the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use decreases by 1 percent a year in healthy men and women.
By the time you hit 30, muscular strength begins to head south. But the majority of the decrease occurs after age 50, when it falls at the rate of 15 percent per decade. Bone mineral density also decreases with age; in women the rate accelerates after menopause.
Experts say the ideal combination of exercise should include a combination of aerobic, strengthening and flexibility exercises.
Balance exercises are also vital in helping prevent falls, which can lead to fractures. Though higher-intensity training programs are effective, less rigorous ones can be just as effective, as long as they are done consistently.
Some fitness professionals stress functional fitness and de-emphasize cardio. They feel that older folks still need to get up and down of the floor, to be able to chase after grandkids and play a round of golf or tennis without having to recover for several days.
Aging is not for sissies. You need to face it head on and pay attention to your limitations, keep up your strength, keep trying new things and have a good attitude. So, tweaking your workout can keep you active. Here’s how to reduce the risk:
If you’re a runner, train like a triathlete. If you only run, you’ll be forced by injury to switch to swimming and biking to rehabilitate overuse injuries. Swimming is beneficial because your posture and body weight is horizontal to gravity, so you work many muscles that receive little attention when running or can become weak and prone to injuries, such as hamstrings, abdominals, and low back. Also, swimming provides a top-notch cardio challenge for heart health, which is important since heart disease risk increases markedly as we age.
If you’re a swimmer, add gravity. Be sure to incorporate strength training, walking or anything weight bearing to help prevent the loss of bone density. Also, spend an equal amount of time on your back to help balance out the curves of the spine. Adding some backstroke into the mix will stretch your pectoral muscles and work the muscles between your shoulder blades that help stabilize your spine and maintain your posture all day long.
If you’re a cyclist, run. Cycling mainly involves the quadriceps muscles while running is primarily a hamstring activity. When either of these muscles is too strong, injury occurs. Combining biking and running keeps these muscle groups balanced. Also try the stationary rower, which doesn’t put vertical pressure on the knees.
If you’re a bodybuilder, try yoga. Improving your flexibility provides a static challenge to the muscles versus the dynamic ‘pump, pump, pump’, rep after rep you’ve experienced with a long-term routine of bodybuilding.
If you’re a tennis player, balance the other side. Do resistance training in the form of dumbbells, bands and tubing to balance the strength on each side of the body. If you are right-handed, most of the joints and muscles on the right side of the body will be better developed than those on the left side. With free weights, each arm has to independently hoist the weight such as shoulder presses with the left side versus the right side.
If you don’t work out, get you okole (Hawaii pidgen for butt) moving. Don’t worry about weights and just get up and walk or try something fun. Start with a form of cardio, such as walking, spinning or using a cardio machine. Adopt a good core-building activity, such as Pilates.
You can also purchase exercise DVDs, which are ridiculously inexpensive. And, if you press play enough, they really work.”
For me, I stretch for at least a half hour before I play ball. At home, I do push-ups on my knees and use the 6-5-4-3-2-1 / 1-2-3-4-5-6 routine. This is doing 6 push-ups and waiting 30 seconds before doing 5, etc. I also do angles instead of just straight forward and back. For abs, I use a wheel that has side grips. I do 10 to 15 out and backs every other day. Then at least once a week I swim about 300 to 400 yards. Somehow I manage to fit in hiking, racewalking, stand-up paddling and an occasional women’s self defense class. And I sleep like there’s no tomorrow.
I have found that adhering to a plant-based diet, free of anything that had a face or a mother, dairy products and eggs, keeps me feeling light and energetic, despite weighing 190 pounds. And because of the sulfur crystals, I never have joint pain.
About the author:
I have been doing a weekly radio show in Honolulu since 1981 called “Health Talk”. In 2007 I was “forced” to get a Masters degree in Nutrition because of all the doctors that would call in asking for my credentials. They do not call in anymore. Going to www.healthtalkhawaii.com enables you, among other things, to listen to the shows. I am an activist. In addition to espousing an organic vegan diet for optimum health, I am strongly opposed to GMOs, vaccines, processed foods, MSG, aspartame, fluoridation and everything else that the pimps (Big Pharma, Monsanto and the large food companies) and the hookers (the doctors, the government agencies, the public health officials, and the mainstream media) thrust upon us, the tricks.
After being vaccinated with the DTP vaccine as a child I developed asthma. After taking the organic sulfur crystals (they are harvested from the pine trees in Louisiana) in November of 2008 for 10 days my asthma reversed and has not come back over 4 years later, 18 cases, so far, of autism have been reversed, as has cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, osteoarthritis, joint pain, astigmatism, gum disease, increased sexual activity, heavy metal and radiation elimination, parasite elimination, free radicals elimination, faster athletic recovery time, increased blood circulation, reduced inflammation, resistance to getting the flu, reduction of wrinkles, allergy reduction, reduced PMS and monthly period pain, nausea, migraines and so much more. And it’s only possible because of the oxygen it releases that floods the cells of the body. The sulfur, as proven by the University of Southampton in England, enables the body to produce vitamin B12 and the essential amino acids. You can find out more about this incredible nutrient also on my website – www.healthtalkhawaii.com -.
By: Scott Quill
The guy lifting beside you looks like he should write the book on muscle. Talks like it, too. He’s worked out since the seventh grade, he played D-1 football, and he’s big.
But that doesn’t mean he knows what he’s talking about. Starting now, ignore him.
The gym is infested with bad information. Lies that start with well-intentioned gym teachers trickle down to students who become coaches, trainers, or know-it-all gym-rat preachers. Lies morph into myths that endure because we don’t ask questions, for fear of looking stupid.
Scientists, on the other hand, gladly look stupid—that’s why they’re so darn smart. Plus, they have cool human-performance laboratories where they can prove or disprove theories and myths.
Here’s what top exercise scientists and expert trainers have to say about the crap that’s passed around in gyms. Listen up and learn. Then go ahead, question it.
Slow Lifting Builds Huge Muscles
Lifting super slowly produces superlong workouts—and that’s it. University of Alabama researchers recently studied two groups of lifters doing a 29-minute workout. One group performed exercises using a 5-second up phase and a 10-second down phase, the other a more traditional approach of 1 second up and 1 second down. The faster group burned 71 percent more calories and lifted 250 percent more weight than the superslow lifters.
The real expert says: “The best increases in strength are achieved by doing the up phase as rapidly as possible,” says Gary Hunter, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., the lead study author. “Lower the weight more slowly and under control.” There’s greater potential for growth during the lowering phase, and when you lower with control, there’s less chance of injury.
More Protein Builds More Muscle
To a point, sure. But put down the shake for a sec. Protein promotes the muscle-building process, called protein synthesis, “but you don’t need exorbitant amounts to do this,” says John Ivy, Ph.D., coauthor of Nutrient Timing.
If you’re working out hard, consuming more than 0.9 to 1.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight is a waste. Excess protein breaks down into amino acids and nitrogen, which are either excreted or converted into carbohydrates and stored.
The real expert says: More important is when you consume protein, and that you have the right balance of carbohydrates with it. Have a postworkout shake of three parts carbohydrates and one part protein.
Eat a meal several hours later, and then reverse that ratio in your snack after another few hours, says Ivy. “This will keep protein synthesis going by maintaining high amino acid concentrations in the blood.”
Squats Kill Your Knees
And cotton swabs are dangerous when you push them too far into your ears. It’s a matter of knowing what you’re doing.
A recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that “open-chain” exercises—those in which a single joint is activated, such as the leg extension—are potentially more dangerous than closed-chain moves—those that engage multiple joints, such as the squat and the leg press.
The study found that leg extensions activate your quadriceps muscles slightly independently of each other, and just a 5-millisecond difference in activation causes uneven compression between the patella (kneecap) and thighbone, says Anki Stensdotter, the lead study author.
The real expert says: “The knee joint is controlled by the quadriceps and the hamstrings. Balanced muscle activity keeps the patella in place and appears to be more easily attained in closed-chain exercises,” says Stensdotter.
To squat safely, hold your back as upright as possible and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or at least as far as you can go without discomfort in your knees).
Try front squats if you find yourself leaning forward. Although it’s a more advanced move, the weight rests on the fronts of your shoulders, helping to keep your back upright, Stensdotter says.
Never Exercise a Sore Muscle
Before you skip that workout, determine how sore you really are. “If your muscle is sore to the touch or the soreness limits your range of motion, it’s best that you give the muscle at least another day of rest,” says Alan Mikesky, Ph.D., director of the human performance and biomechanics laboratory at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.
In less severe instances, an “active rest” involving light aerobic activity and stretching, and even light lifting, can help alleviate some of the soreness. “Light activity stimulates bloodflow through the muscles, which removes waste products to help in the repair process,” says David Docherty, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at the University of Victoria in Canada.
The real expert says: If you’re not sore to the touch and you have your full range of motion, go to the gym. Start with 10 minutes of cycling, then exercise the achy muscle by performing no more than three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions using a weight that’s no heavier than 30 percent of your one-rep maximum, says Docherty.
Stretching Prevents Injuries
Maybe if you’re a figure skater. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed more than 350 studies and articles examining the relationship between stretching and injuries and concluded that stretching during a warmup has little effect on injury prevention.
“Stretching increases flexibility, but most injuries occur within the normal range of motion,” says Julie Gilchrist, M.D., one of the study’s researchers. “Stretching and warming up have just gone together for decades. It’s simply what’s done, and it hasn’t been approached through rigorous science.”
The real expert says: Warming up is what prevents injury, by slowly increasing your bloodflow and giving your muscles a chance to prepare for the upcoming activity. To this end, Dr. Gilchrist suggests a thorough warmup, as well as conditioning for your particular sport.
Of course, flexibility is a good thing. If you need to increase yours so it’s in the normal range (touching your toes without bending your knees, for instance), do your stretching when your muscles are already warm.
Use Swiss Balls, Not Benches
Don’t abandon your trusty bench for exercises like the chest press and shoulder press if your goal is strength and size. “The reason people are using the ball and getting gains is because they’re weak as kittens to begin with,” says Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S. You have to reduce the weight in order to press on a Swiss ball, and this means you get less out of the exercise, he says.
The real expert says: A Swiss ball is great for variety, but center your chest and shoulder routines on exercises that are performed on a stable surface, Ballantyne says. Then use the ball to work your abs.
Always Use Free Weights
Sometimes machines can build muscle better—for instance, when you need to isolate specific muscles after an injury, or when you’re too inexperienced to perform a free-weight exercise.
If you can’t complete a pullup, you won’t build your back muscles. So do lat pulldowns to develop strength in this range of motion, says Greg Haff, Ph.D., director of the strength research laboratory at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.
The real expert says: “Initially, novice athletes will see benefits with either machines or free weights, but as you become more trained, free weights should make up the major portion of your training program,” says Haff.
Free-weight exercises mimic athletic moves and generally activate more muscle mass. If you’re a seasoned lifter, free weights are your best tools to build strength or burn fat.
Scientists have found and manipulated body chemistry linked to the aging of muscles and were able to turn back the clock on old human muscle, restoring its ability to repair and rebuild itself, they said today.
The study involved a small number of participants, however. And the news is not all rosy.
Importantly, the research also found evidence that aging muscles need to be kept in shape, because long periods of atrophy are more challenging to overcome. Older muscles do not respond as well to sudden bouts of exercise, the scientists discovered. And rather than building muscle, an older person can generate scar tissue upon, say, lifting weights after long periods of inactivity.
The findings are detailed today in the European journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.
“Our study shows that the ability of old human muscle to be maintained and repaired by muscle stem cells can be restored to youthful vigor given the right mix of biochemical signals,” said study leader Irina Conboy of the University of California, Berkeley. “This provides promising new targets for forestalling the debilitating muscle atrophy that accompanies aging, and perhaps other tissue degenerative disorders as well.”
More research would be needed before any anti-aging products might result from the work, however.
Scientists know that muscles deteriorate rapidly in old age. Mechanisms that prevent muscle breakdown work less effectively in people over the age of 65, a study earlier this month found. Other research has shown that neurons have to yell louder to kick aging muscles into gear.
Yet much about how and why muscles respond to exercise, and atrophy without it, remains unknown.
Previous research in animal models led by Conboy revealed that the ability of adult stem cells to do their job of repairing and replacing damaged tissue is governed by the molecular signals they get from surrounding muscle tissue, and that those signals change with age in ways that thwart tissue repair. But the animal studies also showed that the regenerative function in old stem cells can be revived.
Meanwhile, there is no fountain of youth for aging muscles. The best advice for now: Eat well and exercise regularly throughout life.
Human muscle atrophy
In the new study, a team of researchers compared samples of muscle tissue from nearly 30 healthy men. The young group ranged from age 21 to 24 and averaged 22.6 years old, while the older group averaged 71.3 years old, ranging from 68 to 74.
Muscle biopsies were taken from one quadriceps (upper leg muscle) of each test subject, who then had that leg immobilized in a cast for two weeks to simulate muscle atrophy. After the casts were removed, the men lifted weights to regain muscle mass. More muscle tissue samples were taken.
Analysis showed that before the legs were immobilized, the adult stem cells responsible for muscle repair and regeneration were only half as numerous in the old muscle as they were in young tissue. (Muscle stem cells produce other muscle cells.) The disparity increased during exercise, with younger tissue having four times more regenerative cells compared with the old muscle.
Muscles of the older participants showed signs of inflammation and scar tissue formation during immobility and again four weeks after the cast was removed.
“Two weeks of immobilization only mildly affected young muscle, in terms of tissue maintenance and functionality, whereas old muscle began to atrophy and manifest signs of rapid tissue deterioration,” said Morgan Carlson, another UC Berkeley researcher and the study’s lead author.
“The old muscle also didn’t recover as well with exercise,” Carlson said. “This emphasizes the importance of older populations staying active because the evidence is that for their muscle, long periods of disuse may irrevocably worsen the stem cells’ regenerative environment.”
The researchers warned that in the elderly, rigorous exercise after immobility can cause replacement of functional muscle by scarring and inflammation.
“It’s like a Catch-22,” Conboy said.
Previous studies have shown that adult muscle stem cells have a receptor called Notch, which triggers growth when activated. Those stem cells also have a receptor for the protein TGF-beta that, when excessively activated, sets off a chain reaction that ultimately inhibits a cell’s ability to divide. In aging mice, the decline of Notch and increased levels of TGF-beta ultimately block the stem cells’ ability to rebuild muscle.
The new study found the same process at work in humans. But it also revealed that an enzyme called mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) regulates Notch activity.
In old muscle, MAPK levels are low, so the Notch pathway is not activated and the stem cells no longer perform their muscle regeneration jobs properly, the researchers said.
In the lab, the researchers cultured old human muscle and forced the activation of MAPK. The regenerative ability of the old muscle was significantly enhanced, they report.
“In practical terms, we now know that to enhance regeneration of old human muscle and restore tissue health, we can either target the MAPK or the Notch pathways,” Conboy said. “The ultimate goal, of course, is to move this research toward clinical trials.”
The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, the Danish Medical Research Council and the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research.
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