Making Gains in the New Year
Yes, my resolution for the new year was to gain some weight.
I made this resolution jokingly just to be a bit of a contrarian to everyone else who resolved to lose a few pounds in 2024. But as I thought a bit more about it, I thought that this resolution could actually make some sense if I modified it just a little bit. I’m resolving to gain a few pounds…of muscle mass.
Even though the leftover gingerbread houses offer a great opportunity to add unneeded pounds, adding lean muscle mass has huge health benefits for people of any age. The benefits are perhaps even more important to adults over 50 years of age.
So why is adding muscle and strength training so important as we age? For one, we want to add muscle to combat sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle that occurs with aging or immobility. If you’ve ever compared a person’s skinny arm that has just come out of a cast for several weeks to their non-injured arm, you’ll have an idea of how rapidly loss of muscle can occur from lack of use. This doesn’t happen just in the extremes though. A person who does not use their muscles in their 50s as much as they did in their 40s will experience the same process. The results of this muscle loss can show up in later decades as frailty, reduced quality of life, falls, and fractures.
The best tool that we have available to maintain or improve our muscles and our functional strength is not a drug in the pharmacy, it is exercise. While cardiovascular exercise undoubtedly should be a part of your fitness plan, we cannot overlook strength training. Strengthening your muscles now will not only make your everyday tasks feel much easier right away, but the investment will also pay dividends in the future by lowering your risk of frailty, falls, and fractures in the years ahead.
For arthritis sufferers, aids such as these weights are available which make strength training available to those who suffer with arthritis in the hands.
Mark Mercure is certified by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties in Geriatric Pharmacy and is the owner/manager of Home Health Care Pharmacy. He specializes in providing comprehensive medication reviews which help patients optimize medication use and avoid drug-related issues.