Middle-aged woman holding a plank position with her laptop in front of her during an at-home workout.

The Importance of Muscles for Longevity

When we think about aging gracefully and healthily, most of us think about things like skincare routines and cardiovascular exercise. While there is no doubt that both of these are beneficial, there is another important factor that plays into longevity that you may be overlooking—strength training.

Your Muscles As You Age

It’s no secret that a lot about your body will change as you age, including your body’s ability to build and maintain muscle. For the first few decades of life, the human body naturally and gradually builds muscle mass; however, for most people, this natural growth reaches its peak in their late 20s. After the age of 30, most people will begin to experience a gradual decline of muscle mass, losing an estimated 3% to 8% of muscle for each passing decade. What’s more? This rate of decline accelerates again after the age of 60. 

As time goes on, this slow decline in muscle can impact your body in three main ways: 

1) Loss of Muscle Power

Generally, the first impact you will notice as your muscles age is a loss of muscle power, which is the term used to describe the product of your muscle force and velocity combined. Simply put, muscle power is the result of the strength of your muscles and the speed at which your muscles contract. If you need a visual, throwing a punch and executing a vertical jump (from a standing position) are movements that require muscle power. 

While it appears that the rate of decline for muscle power over time varies from person to person, researchers have concluded that this aspect of muscular fitness is often the first to go. This is because fast-twitch muscle fibers are often the first to deteriorate. These muscle fibers are built for short, powerful bursts of movement. In essence, they are what make the “speed” part of the muscle power equation happen. When these fibers start to lose their oomph, the amount of muscle power your body can generate will begin to drop. 

Why are fast-twitch muscle fibers the first to go? More often than not, it’s because these fibers are the first ones we stop training. For example, how often do you do a round of sprints or a series of box jumps as part of your regular workout routine? These are the types of workouts that build and maintain the capabilities of fast-twitch muscle fibers, and they are often some of the first exercises that we drop from our workout routines. 

2) Loss of Muscle Strength

As you age, you may also start to notice a decrease in your muscle strength, which is defined as the amount of weight you can lift. This is important because your muscle strength can directly impact various aspects of your overall health as well as your quality of life. Not only can weak muscles affect your body’s ability to carry out basic functions such as breathing, but it can also make it more difficult to carry out some of the basic activities you do every day, such as walking to your car, brushing your teeth, and carrying a basket of laundry. 

While maintaining muscle strength in earlier years of life is often not an issue, as the passage of time starts to wear on your body, your muscle strength will naturally start to decrease unless you are actively taking steps to combat it, such as incorporating weight training into your regular routine. 

3) Loss of Muscle Mass

Muscle mass, which is simply defined as the amount of muscle within your body, is often the last decline you will notice. Not only does a loss of muscle mass impact the way you look (small, less visible muscles) but it also affects your physical abilities, particularly when it comes to balance. Because of this, a low muscle mass is associated with frailty and an increased risk of falling. 

The Impact of Muscle Mass on Longevity

The discussion around muscle mass and strength training has been centered around its aesthetic worth for quite some time, and it’s common to believe that incorporating strength training into your workout routines is only beneficial for the way it makes you look. However, muscular development is about so much more than that. 

It’s about building the strength needed to carry out daily functions and providing your body with the support it needs to live a long and healthy life. Several studies have found that muscle mass and strength are closely linked to longevity.

Let’s take a closer look at just a few of the ways caring for your muscles can help you live a longer, healthier life. 

Mobility

Our muscles are at the core of our ability to move our bodies. From large tasks like sprinting across a basketball court to smaller, everyday tasks like folding laundry or putting away groceries, your muscles are what allow you to remain physically capable throughout your life. This means that a loss of muscle mass over time leads to a decrease in mobility. This loss of mobility not only makes everyday tasks like standing from a chair or walking upstairs more difficult, but it also increases your chances of needing mobility aids and leads to an increased risk of falling. 

Metabolism

Whether you realize it or not, your muscle mass can impact many aspects of your health, such as your metabolism. While the main role of your skeletal muscles is to initiate and carry out movement, this important organ system also plays a role in regulating your metabolism by influencing the way your body burns calories to create energy as well as the way it stores and uses protein. 

It’s well-documented that strengthening your muscles can help increase your metabolism because, on average, muscles burn more calories than fat does. However, what’s not often discussed is the fact that a loss in muscle mass can slow down your metabolism

As you can guess, this change in metabolism can make it difficult for older adults to lose weight or maintain their current healthy weight. 

Cognitive Function

Another aspect of your health that may be impacted by your muscle mass is your brain health, specifically your cognitive function. While the exact relationship here is still being explored, researchers have found that there is a connection between muscle mass and cognitive function in older adults. For example, some cross-sectional studies have found that older people who have stronger muscles also tend to have better brain function. Additional research that followed a group of adults over time found that people who experienced age-related declines in muscle mass also experienced faster cognitive decline. 

Tips for Preserving Strength as You Age

Needless to say, caring for your muscular system as you age is a key component of living a long and healthy life. But the question remains: How exactly can you ensure your muscles stay as strong as possible as time passes by? Here are some helpful tips. 

1. Start Strength Training

Strength training plays an important role in improving and maintaining both the strength and mass of skeletal muscles. The simple act of working strength or resistance training into your regular routines can help combat the effects that aging has on muscle mass, helping to keep you strong and healthy for as long as possible. 

As a bonus, adding strength training to your workout routine also comes with other health benefits, such as protecting bone health, supporting weight management, and promoting cardiovascular health. 

If you are new to strength training, it may sound a bit intimidating, but we are here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. Start by trying simple moves like bodyweight squats and push-ups before moving on to moves that require extra weight, such as dumbbell curls and goblet squats. 

2. Prioritize High-Quality Sleep 

No matter what kind of health journey you are on, high-quality sleep is of the utmost importance, and a journey toward healthy aging is no exception. Research has found that there is a positive association between high-quality sleep and muscle strength, likely because your body uses the time that you are asleep to produce the hormones that are needed to grow and repair muscle tissue. 

What’s more? A solid night of rest will help increase your energy levels so you are ready to give your all during your next strength training session. 

3. Don’t Forget About Flexibility 

Stretching is a vital part of any exercise regimen. Not only can stretching after your workouts help reduce soreness, but it can also help increase blood flow throughout your body, improve your range of motion, and generally keep your muscle tissues strong, flexible, and healthy. 

4. Focus On Nutrition

What you eat is incredibly important, especially when you are working to build and maintain muscle mass. A diet that is filled with a wide variety of natural, whole foods will provide your body with all the vital nutrients it needs to function properly. What nutrients are most important for muscular health? While all essential nutrients are important here, it can be argued that protein is key. As the building block of muscles, protein is essential for building and maintaining strength as you age. Feed your body the fuel it needs to stay strong and healthy by incorporating high-quality protein sources into your diet, such as chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, and seeds.

Support Your Muscles with Superfood Supplements From New Earth

Supporting your muscular system as your body ages is one of the keys to living a long, healthy life. However let’s be honest, building and maintaining muscle strength can often be a lot more difficult than it sounds. While the best way to grow and maintain muscle mass is to engage in regular strength training and fuel your body with the proper nutrients, getting extra support from nutritional supplements designed to support you on your health and fitness journey can also be beneficial for some. 

With that in mind, if you are looking for a supplement to support you on your path to better physical fitness, look no further than the all-natural superfood supplements from New Earth. Whether you are looking to improve your flexibility, enhance your focus during your workouts, or give your body an extra boost of vital nutrients, we have a product to help. 

The best part? You can put any of our products to the test risk-free with our 90-day money-back guarantee. 

At New Earth (link to newearth.com) we are on a mission to positively impact the health of every body and soul we come in contact with. We specialize in producing third-party certified, organic whole food supplements including a variety of probiotics, and digestive support. Our supplements feature a rare, yet highly nutritious superfood, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). Also known as organic Wild Microalgae®, AFA is a unique type of microalgae that is available in many forms including tablets, capsules, and powders all designed to help you on your journey to holistic wellness. The best part? We offer a 90-day money-back risk-free guarantee on all of our products. Visit our website to learn more.