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MAY ARTICLE OF THE MONTH: WHY BUILDING MUSCLE SHOULD MATTER TO YOU

Aesthetics aside, building muscle is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and longevity. It impacts your quality of life as you age, plays a vital role in your metabolic health, and can help to prevent certain populations from cognitive decline.


Higher quality of life as you age. Muscle mass decreases by about 3-8% per decade after the age of 30. This rate of decline increases after age 60. This is for individuals who strength train regularly and eat adequate protein. Without strength training people can lose up to 30% of their muscle mass between the ages of 50 and 70. After age 70 the rate of muscle loss accelerates even further. Sarcopenia, or the decline of skeletal muscle tissue with age, is one of the leading causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults. Do your future self a favor, lift some weights.



The role it plays in metabolic health. You can either have muscle mass or fat mass on your frame. Fat mass is literally dead weight. Muscle mass is metabolically active tissue, meaning that it burns calories even while at rest. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns at rest to keep it functioning. On the other hand, if you have an abundance of body fat the issues are far greater than just having extra tissue or weight on your body. Obesity can trigger inflammation in your joints, cause high blood pressure, and lead to high blood sugar. Risk of stroke and heart disease are increased. Fat will also get stored in places it woudln't normally be such as the liver and kidneys. All of these symptoms which are associated with obesity contribute to metabolic syndrome. Individuals with metabolic syndrome have a higher risk of developing many chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even certain types of cancer. Build muscle.



It can help to prevent or stall cognitive decline. Strength training (lifting weights) was shown to slow and in some cases even halt degeneration in areas of the brain which are particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease. The clinical trial was conducted by a team at the University of Sydney. Participants used for the trial were older, were at a high risk for Alzheimer's , and were already experiencing some mild cognitive impairment. Participants strength trained for 6 months and then resumed their normal activity for 12 months. The long term study found that strength training led to benefits linked to protection from degeneration in specific parts of the hippocampus (a part of the brain which plays a major role in memory and learning). The control group which didn't participate in strength training saw that the same parts of the hippocampus shrank by 3-4% over the 18 month span. Do something good for your brain, stretngth train.


As you can see, regardless of where you are in your life the above mentioned points are things that affect all people from every walk of life. While building muscle won't keep us alive forever, it's one of the few things that are directly within our control. And it's entirely up to us to find a way to get it done.


Questions? I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to email me at darkhorseperformance@yahoo.com


You can also check out my podcast (The Dark Horse Podcast) where I discuss all things lifting and nutrition related. Available on Apple, Spotify, and Amazon Music.


Thanks for reading.

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