aging

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Increasing Capillarization and Reversing the Aging Process

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As we age there is a decrease in capillarization and an increase in anabolic resistance.

If you increase the amount of capillaries of muscles (capillarization) you’ll more quickly get more blood flows, oxygen, and nutrients to those muscles. You’ll be able to engage in physical activities longer.

As we age our body down-grades its ability to synthesize protein (anabolic resistance). This protein is necessary to maintain muscle.

How can you reverse anabolic resistance and increase capillarization?

From this study, Resistance Training Increases Skeletal Muscle Capillarization in Healthy Older Men:

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Got Sarcopenia? If you are over forty you have it

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The term sarcopenia has not been in common usage for very long (see graph), but the condition has been around forever.  Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle tissue that occurs as a natural part of the aging process. According to this article, Why You're Aging Ungracefully, there are two things we can do to help maintain our muscle as we age - lift weights and eat high-quality protein.

A quote from the article:

Sarcopenia begins naturally in the 4th and 5th decades of life, making your 40s and 50s an ideal time to increase dietary protein and weight training, but even those in their 60s and beyond can benefit."

Another quote:

"The stronger you are, the more muscle you have, the less likely you are to become sick or die."  

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Strength training study shows seniors improving far more than younger set

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Two groups of men and women strength trained for six months. One group was older and the other younger. At the start of the study the older group was 59% weaker than the younger group. After six months the older adults were only 38% weaker than younger adults. Both groups improved, but the older group improved much more. 

From this study Resistance Exercise Reverses Aging in Human Skeletal Muscle

“We conclude that healthy older adults show evidence of mitochondrial impairment and muscle weakness, but that this can be partially reversed at the phenotypic level, and substantially reversed at the transcriptome level, following six months of resistance exercise training”.

Mitochondria, found in most cells, is where respiration and energy production takes place. Six months of strength training partially reversed mitochondria impairments to a level consistent with a younger stage in life. It is like having a fountain of youth.

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Bogus BMI Numbers

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Take two numbers, height and weight, and come up with another number, Body Mass Index (BMI), and as an indicator of good health you have next to nothing.  The BMI fails to take into account physical features - as an example those with broad shoulders will have a higher BMI compared to those with narrow shoulders. There is no differentiation between fat, muscle, and bone, and it does not account for gender.

The BMI often changes as we age. For some it is lower, but that does not necessarily mean better health. Thirty years ago I was in peak physical condition and had more muscle mass than I do today; I regularly played rugby, two 40 minutes halves of pretty much non-stop strenuous exertion with no substitutions.  According to this BMI chart I would have been bordering on obesity and classified as unhealthy.

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How to stay limber and avoid aches and pains

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Injuries can happen suddenly such as a pulled muscle or can happen slowly over time such as a repetitive use injury.  Years later these injuries can come back to haunt us as the aches and pains we live with.  You can keep those aches at bay by remaining strong and limber.  The trick is to do exercises that do not aggravate those old injuries.

At Austin Personal Training and  New Orleans Personal Training  we use MedX medical rehab equipment that can be precisely customized with a premium on safety for those who have those haunting injuries. Exercise safely, release those endorphins, and the pains will go away.

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The effect of six seconds of exercise on the elderly

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I once asked a 65-year-old friend of mine when was the last time he had gone all out. He replied, “John it's been decades”.

Our bodies respond to the stresses placed on them by making a positive adaptation to handle that stress. Our skin becomes tan, our hands become calloused, our muscles become stronger, and our body increases its capacity to burn sugar longer.

If we do not place demands on our body our body downgrades its ability to handle demanding work. Muscle is metabolically expensive to maintain. If we do not need it we lose it, and our bodies become weaker. As a consequence we burn fewer calories, we lose flexibility, our cardiovascular system becomes compromised, we are more prone to injury, our immune system becomes weaker, and our bones decalcify.

How much demanding work is enough to cause a positive change?  That depends on how far out of shape you are. From this article, Six seconds 'can transform health', comes this quote:

"A group of pensioners came into the lab twice a week for six weeks and went hell for leather on an exercise bike for six seconds.

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The benefit of exercise that cannot be measured

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When we are younger we exercise to look better and perhaps to perform better at a sport or activity, and of course, to be healthy. When we are older we still want to perform well and look good, but there's other benefits that move to the forefront. At we get older our old injuries begin to haunt us. As we get older we are not as resiliant, and we need an added measure of protection against injuries. At my age I just want to feel good and not get hurt or sick. I am at a point that I have to exercise to avoid the pains that old injuries bring.

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Going All Out Again

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A series of injuries including a ruptured Achilles tendon resulted in nine month of no exercise - none. I didn’t even work for a couple of months. I started back lifting what I could handle and began a sprint training program three times a week on a stationary recumbent bike - 120 seconds warm-up followed by a 30 second all-out sprint followed by at 90 second easy recovery pace. Eventually I worked up to a total of eight sprints. If you can do more you are pacing yourself.

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52 weeks and a new lease on life

Every new year we have great expectations of improvement in our well-being, but few achieve those improvements. One man did:

At 72 years old Marcus was slowing down; he could no longer play golf every day. He could play nine holes but lacked the stamina to pay eighteen holes. He began strength training at
New Orleans Personal Trainers (our other location – Austin Fitness Trainers). He strength trained for about 30 minutes once a week for a year.

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Muscles really do have a long memory

From this Science News article Muscles remember past glory:

"Muscles hold memories of their former fitness in nuclei (green, shown on muscle fiber) that help the muscle bounce back to fitness when training begins after a period of inactivity.

Pumping up is easier for people who have been buff before, and now scientists think they know why — muscles retain a memory of their former fitness even as they wither from lack of use.

That memory is stored as DNA-containing nuclei, which proliferate when a muscle is exercised. Contrary to previous thinking, those nuclei aren’t lost when muscles atrophy, researchers report online August 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The extra nuclei form a type of muscle memory that allows the muscle to bounce back quickly when retrained.

The new study suggests that pumping muscles full of nuclei early in life could help stave off muscle loss with age."

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