Use it or Lose it – Really.
In March of this year MRTC hosted the 54th Annual RRCA Convention (Road Runners Club of America, http://www.rrca.org/) One feature of the annual convention is break-out sessions spread out over the two days of the event, with CE’s for certified coaches, information on timing systems, club communication, directing races, injury prevention, etc. As co-director of the convention it was my goal to stop in at all 12 of the break-out sessions at some point for at least a few minutes. I stepped into one session, however, and never left. It was led by Ashley Hofeditz (a Memphis-based registered, licensed dietitian). I never left and I ended up scribbling notes furiously on the back of my name tag, which I then, unfortunately, lost. Since that session I’ve intended to try to contact Ashley and ask her for further information but had not gotten that done yet.
This morning I opened the paper and on the front page of the M Section was an article by Ms. Hofeditz about the very same subject. It is incredibly fascinating and, I think, vitally important to everyone – not just runners or bikers or swimmers or whatever type athlete you might be – but even more vitally and life-sustaining for anyone who is sedentary.
What stunned me about Ms. Hofeditz’s presentation at the convention was the information on lean muscle mass loss over the age of 30 and, much more importantly, the effect it has on the elderly who get sick. I will link the entire article at the end of this blog, which I highly recommend everyone read, print, re-read and keep in their journal or wherever they put the information they want to review. First, however, some highlights from the article (all italics mine):
– “Once we get into our 40s, we lose about 8 percent of our muscle mass every 10 years”
– “By age 70 this loss speeds up dramatically to around 15 percent loss of muscle every 10 years.”
– “…healthy elderly people were studied. After 28 days of bed rest…the elderly…lost muscle fast, losing 10% of their muscle, and it took them only about 10 days to do so.”
– “Sickness and injury can accelerate muscle loss…the elderly, when hospitalized, can lose 10% or more of their muscle in only three days”
– “Half of all women over age 65 who fall and break a hip never walk again.” (how many of you are closer to 65 than 21??)
Ms. Hofeditz and Dr. Jonathan Ellen, stroke director at HealthSouth Rehab, then go on to explain the best ways to maintain the greatest possible lean muscle mass as we age, with proper nutrition and strength training being essential. The article also explains in greater detail the types of exercise and dietary changes that will have the greatest effect on our health and strength as we age.
If we’re ‘lucky’ we’ve already implemented a fitness routine and are committed to eating healthy, no matter our current age. Hearing Ms. Hofeditz speak, however, I realized that there are many tweaks I could make to be much more effective in my efforts and to make the time I spend working out more beneficial, in addition to making some changes to my diet (yuck. Can we please, really, just eat coffee cake for breakfast? please?? I put blueberries in it). The earlier in life we get started, the better the foundation. However — we must not use our age as an excuse. No matter your age getting fit is commitment; it’s sweat and effort and time. Of course as you age it gets a bit more difficult, a bit more uncomfortable and we can fall, perhaps even more easily, into using that as an excuse to do it tomorrow.
As I wrote just yesterday (here) it’s hard to keep going. We get older, the kids grow up and leave home and we think we’re done. Golden years. Time to chillax. Implement those changes in lifestyle we always intended but were too busy for. Start walking. Get a bike. Go to that class at the gym. But, no. Along come the aging parents, the grandkids :-), work continues, and we stay just as busy. Our resolutions to Get Fit once we “have time” never get realized. And then we’re 55, and then we’re getting close to 60 – and now it’s not any fun at all. Getting fit hurts at any age, but at 55 and 60 and definitely past that, the body starts to hurt even when you do nothing to it. Your knee nags you. Your back has that one kink in it that always flairs up. You don’t want to sweat and breathe hard. It’s uncomfortable. You’re a bit more tired in the morning. You decide just to sleep in today.
I will tell you what’s uncomfortable: lying in a bed all day long every day for a year, daily losing whatever little bit you had until you cannot sit unaided, cannot lift your leg more than 6 inches, cannot brush your own hair. And this can happen to any of us; not to be Debbydowner here, but it’s going to happen to some of us.
And the ramifications echo throughout your world and the world of your loved ones. Care like that is expensive. Your spouse or your family struggles to figure the best way to care for you on the income they have. Their life revolves around visiting you, worrying about you, trying to be sure every day that ‘they’ did change your ‘briefs’ in a timely manner, ‘they’ did turn you so you don’t get a bedsore … because as much as you might like to think, right now, that the medical personnel will be there for that – ‘they’ won’t be. Not all the time, and not for lack of wanting to help you. Instead, they’ll be down the hallway with the guy who just fell out of his wheelchair, or they’re changing someone else’s soiled bed and you’re 3rd on the list right now. The actual caregivers truly do care, but when an RN has 20 patients in a ward and two CRN’s where maybe 2-3 patients are mobile, you’re on the list as soon as they can get to you. Corporate, in their glass castle in upper Podunk, is not looking at your tired face. They are looking at The. Bottom. Line. and they are not going to approve a 2nd RN or 3rd CRN on that floor for that shift.
We all need to think about what we can do now – today – to offset that to the greatest possible degree. If we read Ashley’s article and we put it to heart, if we add lean protein to (most) every meal in the proper amounts, if we do aerobic AND resistance training, maybe we won’t be the one who falls and breaks the hip. Maybe our muscles and bones will be denser and stronger. Maybe if we do have a stroke, we’ll be fit enough to get out of the hospital sooner and do that physical therapy and return to a more meaningful life. I don’t know. No one knows if that can and will happen in our individual life. But apparently we can be pretty certain that whatever does happen to each of us in our future can be affected by the choice we make today.
Please review all the information in the article at this link: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/may/07/muscle-matters/
Happy Trails –