It is easy to think that repeated use of our joints to squat, push and pull all that weight would create long-term issues. In reality, it actually helps. By the time we hit 40 years of age, most of us are losing muscle mass at a rate of 5% per decade. By age 70, we may have lost up to 50% of our muscle mass. Sarcopenia, as it is called, speeds up in the years between 65 to 80. The muscle gets replaced by fat and fibrous tissues. With muscle no longer there, the skeletal system must now bear the extra load. This leads to painful joints, stiffness, tenderness and aching, all of which are symptoms of osteoarthritis. These pains can lead to sleep disturbances which may possibly lead to further medical complications, including depression.
Osteoarthritis is something that occurs naturally. It happens when the protective cartilage that cushions the end of our bones wears over time. There is no way to repair the cartilage, but we can build a support network to help reduce the strain felt between the two bones. Exercise, including weightlifting, builds the muscles around the areas where osteoarthritis is causing issues and helps to ‘carry the load’ thus reducing the strain of the affected joints. The expression ‘use it or lose it’ definitely rings true when it comes to our muscle mass.
So why exercise and weightlifting?
The easy answer – it’s the most effective way to build muscle mass. The more muscle mass we have, the longer it will take to lose it. Don’t worry, you won’t be pumping iron and trying to look like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead, let’s think of it like a bank account. You can only withdraw what you’ve put in it, and if you make continuous deposits, then you will always be able to withdraw for longer. Keep in mind the rainy day syndrome too: we might have setbacks – these could include illness or accidents. We’re more likely to recover quickly from illness or accident when we have a foundation of fitness to fall back on. We’ve all heard ‘they were lucky they were in good shape!’ when someone has recovered from a major set-back.
Let’s start building your foundation today. Don’t wait until your muscle mass bank account bottoms out!
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