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November 17, 2016

Sarcopenia – Age-Related Muscle Loss – Health Crisis for Baby Boomers

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Baby Boomers like myself — plus Gen X’ers past 40 — face a serious health crisis. The experts say we’re going to live longer than any prior generation – thanks to modern chemistry. But we’re going to be the most obese and out-of-shape group of people in history – and by a wide margin (pun intended). We need to build muscle now to reverse this awful trend!

About 13 percent of baby boomers – the generation born in the two decades after World War Two – reported being in “excellent” health in middle age, compared to 32 percent of the previous generation who said the same thing at the same stage of life, researchers reported in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Overall, about 39 percent of boomers were obese, compared to about 29 percent of the previous generation. Baby boomers were also less likely to get regular exercise.”

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Getting old doesn’t have to mean fading away

Who wants to spend our last 20 or 30 years slouched over and barely able to move? How did this happen? How did our generation suddenly grow old? We were the generation of eternal youth, so much smarter and stronger than our parents. We were the picture of health, at one point. We invented Jogging for god’s sake. We aerobicized in Spandex with Jane Fonda. We played recreational sports like tennis and basketball.

Then all of a sudden, we went from fit to fat. So what happened to us? Kids? Careers. Golf? All the usual diversion
s, possibly made worse thanks to the advent of social media and our hypnotic fixation on little screens. Who knows?

Let’s face it we got lapped by life, too. There was a time when we were the center of the marketing universe. All products were aimed squarely at us. Not so much any more, particularly in the fitness industry. Nobody is catering to us old people these days.

Ultimately, the reasons don’t really matter because we’re headed for a harsh immediate future — fat, frail and hunched over — finding simple things like walking or picking up a sack of groceries painful and difficult.

You can build muscle after 40, 50, 60 and beyond

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Baby Boomers can own the aging process

It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it is entirely possible to fight the negative affects of aging on our muscles. You

can do it now, regardless of your age, as long as you’re able to exercise. We need to engage in resistance training to build muscle as Mother Nature endeavors to take it away.

Muscle building? Hold on, I know what some of you are thinking. No way. Too hard. I don’t want to be a muscle-bound freak. Chill for a minute and hear me out. Especially you girls. What I’m talking about here applies to women and men equally.

This isn’t about hulking up and becoming a bodybuilder. We’re all human and we’re all susceptible to the negative affects of aging on our bodies. This is about fighting those negatives and improving the quality of our lives by building up what nature is trying hard to take away.

Vive La Resistance!

It is something we can take control of. Think of it as the necessary effort to ward off the losses that would otherwise happen to our bodies. We do not have to become a frail bag of skin and bones any more than we have to become hulks. We can Defy Age & Live Strong.

Here’s the hard part: We have to put down the phones, get up off our butts and do some physical work. You know how frail the elderly often appear? That’s because they are literally becoming a shadow of their former selves with saggy skin and weak old bones — and little muscle left to hold it all together.

It happens to everyone. It’s a painful and difficult way to survive. I try to stay away from jargon. But in case you’d like to Google it yourself, there is a medical/technical term for it: SARCOPENIA.

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Loss of muscle mass shrinks our bodies over time. It can be reversed.

On average, people will lose 8% or more of their muscle mass every decade past the age of 40. By 70, most people will have lost as much as half of all their muscle! Losing our muscle mass will ultimately cost us our freedom.

Ultimately, it leads to the need for walkers, wheelchairs and finally institutional care. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can fight back. We can defy the negative effects of aging and even reverse them.

Flip it over to the positives. Think about aging with a sexier body, feeling confident, being stronger and able to take life head on, and on our own terms. All it takes is a little effort on our part to build our muscle and mind the diet to be sure we’re ingesting quality protein and the proper fuel our bodies need.

It really is that simple.

The Secret to Building Muscle Past 40, 50, 60 and Older

One of the big drawbacks to starting any muscle-building program is sifting through the over-proliferation of stuff out there. Exercise routines, personal trainers, DVDs, Webinars, Gyms. There are thousands and thousands of potential solutions floating around: High Intensity Training, Cross Fit, Strength Training, Power Lifting, Cardio, Yoga, Pilates, Barre.

The list is nearly endless. And confusing. Plus, most of this stuff is geared toward younger bodies that can recover much more quickly from punishment. (Clayton d’Arnault, the “Digital Culturalist,” has an interesting take on the general over-proliferation of information on the internet. Link at bottom if you’d like to check it out.)

We’re at an age where we really don’t need some psycho trainer getting in our faces and telling us to quit whimpering and tough it out. In fact, maybe she just should shut up and think about respecting her elders? We don’t need to hear it. Right?

More importantly, our bodies just can’t take that stuff any more. I found that out the hard way. And what I found led me to a new way of working out that is more time efficient, easier on my body and remarkably – more effective at building muscle.

Since I’ve been working out most of my life, and because I’m a creature of habit, I had settled into a groove that required me to lift ever heavier amounts of weight to prove to myself I was making progress.

There are some very popular programs out there today that are all based on the same idea: measure how strong you are by how much more weight you can lift over time. Simple. But it turns out, your body will eventually hit a wall. I hit one in my mid-50’s. I was bench pressing more than 600 pounds on a leverage machine at the time.

And I was doing bicep curls for reps with 155 pounds on the EZ Curl bar. I kept inching the weights up higher. I was making progress. Until one day, my shoulder joints said no mas. “We’re not supporting these heavy weights any more. You’re done.” And that was it. The method of strength training I had relied on religiously since I was 12 was no longer feasible. I needed to find a new way that was right for an older person my age, or just give it up.

At first I got depressed. I’ve always trained alone in my basement. I didn’t have any gym buddies to commiserate with, so as we all do in times of confusion, I turned to the Google (triumphant musical fanfare here).

I started searching for alternative methods to build muscle. Fortunately for me, I’ve been studying strength training techniques my whole life. I could sift through stuff fairly quickly and I ended up ignoring 99.9% of what’s out there.

Eventually, I came upon a method that doesn’t use progressively heavier weights. It can be done in a fairly brief workout of 30 or 40 minutes. And it works to build muscle. No Insanity or Pain!

 

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It’s about the feeling

The key really is listening to your body and staying tuned in to how it feels. At the time, I was a corporate executive working 60 hours per week. That’s the other thing I think most training programs neglect: the real world. Look, we’re not all personal trainers focused on life in the gym. Most of us have jobs, kids, hobbies, etc.

On top of that, I had to take into account all the damage my body had sustained over the years. There was the skiing accident in my 20’s that destroyed my right knee. The heart attack and 3X bypass in my 40’s that changed my diet among other things, plus recent colon surgery and that shoulder joint soreness I had recently developed.

Getting older sucks, right? Anyway…

Now was a time to take a step back. And take into account all the lifestyle and physical issues I had been ignoring and design a program that worked for me and my life. For any workout program to have value, it has to fit in your life. Period. To work in mine, it had to be super-efficient. Less than an hour each time. Bodybuilding is the right space to be in for our purposes. We are focused on building muscle. The jargony term for it is “Hypertrophy.” It means to build muscle. We want to reverse the negative effect of aging that is eating away our muscle mass. The way to do that is to build it faster than nature is trying to take it way. Simple.

We don’t need to focus on all the various varieties of strength training that are out there. We’re not trying to break a world record or enter the Olympics. Our purpose is first and foremost to resist the negative effects of aging – to fight back and reverse it.

Own our bodies as we age.

Improve the quality of our daily lives. The list of dangers that can be reduced by maintaining muscle and reducing obesity is long and profound.

Medical science has proven that, through resistance training, we can reduce the risk of:

  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Cancer
  • Multiple Sclerosis

I’ve been resistance training for nearly 50 years. Now in my 60’s I have greater muscle mass and tone than I did in my 20’s. I’m not perfect by any stretch – I’d love to lose 15 pounds of fat for starters – but I am stronger and I handle most of life’s little physical challenges with ease. Stuff like, picking up grand kids, hoisting bags of groceries, getting in and out the car, hauling luggage to the airport: All the things that can become monstrously difficult for people who waste away as they age are as easy for me as they were 30 years ago.

Defy Age & Live Strong!

Would you spend 40 minutes 3 or 4 days per week to stay strong and healthy? Stay with me and learn more. Please sign up for email alerts so I can keep you posted on how to do it!

Here’s a link to an article on research analysis conducted by the University of Michigan that demonstrated older adults definitely can and should build muscle: “It’s often thought that older adults must tolerate the strength and muscle loss that come with age. But analyses of current research by University of Michigan scientists reveal that not only can we fight the battle of strength and muscle loss as we age, we can even build muscle and strength well into our Golden Years.” Credit: U-M Health System.

This is a quick article on the same subject, with references to a study by the University of Alabama. It answers the question: “Can you regain muscle mass after age 60?” with a resounding “Yes.”

And here’s that link to that article on information overload on the internet: Drowning in a Sea of Information by the Digital Culturist.

Thanks for stopping by! Please feel free to comment below or drop me a note at: Brian@BoomerMuscle.com

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Brian Patterson

I'm a 40 veteran of the corporate world settling into a new role with this website. I want to help other Baby Boomers and people over 40 learn how they can build muscle and reverse the negative effects of aging on their bodies. We're entering the second half of life and if we do something now we can walk tall into our golden years, rather than hunched over and in pain.

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