Use it or Lose it - Your Guide to Total-Body Health
For those of you who have not heard of the book, "Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy - Until You're 80 and Beyond", I suggest you stop reading this right now, run - don't walk - to your local book store and purchase it right now. Written by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge, "Younger" delves deeper into how and why we age, and how you can not only slow the aging process, but reverse it altogether. I have read this book many times because it is so good, and you may even notice the similarities between the title of the book and my blog. I definitely used this book as inspiration for my blog.
Now I could go on and write an entire blog post about this book alone, but I won't, as you are fully capable of going out and purchasing it yourself. I will warn you, however, the book is really aimed towards men who are around the age of retirement, but the principles and teachings in the book can be applied to everyone. Not only that, but they have a version for women too!
Anyways, while reading through some health news today, I came across this article which discusses some of the same principles that Crowley and Lodge discuss in "Younger". Research is proving at how young and vibrant people can stay right up until the day you die.
I always find it sad when people who make comments or suggestions regarding their age and how their deteriorating health is, "a part of getting older!" Lodge and Crowley, as well as numerous other studies suggest otherwise.
With as little science as possible, think of your bodies as a constant construction yard. You have hormones and processes being completed every day that are tearing down older tissues and rebuilding them and replacing them with new ones. As a kid, this works tremendously as you are constantly growing. The problem with most adults is that they become sedentary and then 'age' sets in.
Within your body - the construction site, remember? - there is a steady 'drip' of hormones that are signalling for your tissues to be broken down. This is called atrophy. I am sorry to say, but this will happen to you whether you like it or not. Atrophy is what leads to aging, illness, and disease. This is what is experienced by most individuals out there in society today, they simply let this wave of 'decay' take over their bodies and they begin to waste away, or in other words, 'age'.
However, you can actually slow this trend or reverse it by exercising. Vigorous exercise sends 'other' signals and hormones to the tissues in your body to grow, not decay. It basically tells your body that they have purpose and are still useful. These 'other' signals are what counteracts the wave of atrophy that so many succumb to.
Now the reason why this article reminded of Crowley and Lodge's book, is due to the findings that are published.
"The study offered convincing evidence that the “typical” loss of muscle that begins in adults around the age of 40 has more to do with lack of use than aging alone."
The article goes on to say that a group of 'masters athletes' (aged 40-81) were studied. They all exercised 4 to 5 times a week, either running, swimming, or cycling. They found that due to being extremely active, the 70 year-old folks had no distinguishable loss of leg muscle mass when compared to the 40 year-olds.
The one side note that should be observed from these types of studies however is that if you are an avid runner, well into your old age, this will not necessarily help your upper body muscles.
"The older runners had a slightly higher number of arm motor units than their sedentary peers, but the difference wasn’t statistically significant. Both were dramatically lower than the younger controls – a finding that wasn’t entirely unexpected."
This is a vital piece of information that we should all take with us as we age. Whether you are 20, 30, 60, or even 80 years old, total-body exercise is important for your well-being. Also, if you love a sport such as running, great! But do not make it your entire life. Exercise should be like your diet, well-rounded with plenty of variety! Also, let me leave you with this one final quote from the article;
"“We control 70 per cent of how we age,” she says. “The other 30 per cent is genetic, and we can blame our mothers for that. But 70 per cent is in our hands.” "