Dr. James C. Spaulding

Chiropractor - Edinboro, Pa.

Instrument Adjusting Certified
106 Waterford Street • Edinboro Pa 16412 • Send E-Mail
Phone: (814) 734-3422
What's Up with Middle-Aged Sag?

As we get into our 40’s and 50’s the mirror may not be kind, especially if we have been physically inactive. Under arm “jiggle”, the middle-aged “spread”, and “chicken legs”, all owe their names, primarily, to loss of lean muscle mass.

With aging and physical inactivity our muscle tissue tends to atrophy. This biological process, called Sarcopenia, begins as early as our mid-20s and results in1/2% loss of muscle mass per year; up to twice that after age 60. No wonder people tend to shrink as they get older.

Both decreased testosterone in men and lowered estrogen levels in women lead to Sarcopenia, but lack of physical activity is, by far, the one factor that most influences its progression.

Can anything be done to stop the ravages of time? No, and yes. No, because the effects of aging eventually catch up with everyone. No amount of plastic surgery, anabolic steroids or human growth hormone injections can keep these bodies from ultimately degenerating. Yes, because we can slow, and even reverse, the loss of lean muscle mass by employing resistance strength training.

What is resistance strength training? Resistance training is a form of strength training in which each effort is performed against a specific opposing force. A resistance exercise may be either isometric, or isotonic.

Isometric exercise is a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction (the body part is holding still against the opposing force.) In doing an isometric exercise, you are pulling or pushing against an immovable object. And thus the exercise is static in nature. Actually, you could sit at your desk at work and do isometric exercises.

Isotonic exercise is strength training in which muscles go through concentric and eccentric contractions (the body part moving “in and out” against the opposing force.) The exercise is thus dynamic in nature.

The type of resistance strength training program I believe is most effective for baby boomers is isotonic or dynamic. Whether you employ a resistance weight machine or a band system, you will be going through a full range of motion for the muscle, or muscle group, targeted.

“The goal of resistance training, according to the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI), is to gradually and progressively overloading the musculoskeletal system so it gets stronger.” This means development of both the size and strength of muscles. If you are thinking, “I am not interested in getting “bigger” or “bulking-up,” please read on.

Why is gaining muscle mass so important?

Research has shown that resistance exercise contributes to improved body composition by enhanced abdominal adipose tissue lipolysis and improved whole body fat oxidation. In other words, gaining muscle mass means increased fat burning, and excess fat, especially deep abdominal or visceral fat, is implicated in a whole host of health problems, including acceleration of the aging process.

Resistance strength exercise burns fat tissue, and replaces it with muscle tissue. Does this mean you are going to “bulk-up” like a body-builder? No. Actually, a pound of muscle is smaller than a pound of fat. Would you trade 10 to 20 pounds of fat for 2 to 5 pounds of muscle? I’m betting you would. Resistance training will not “bulk you up”, but it will give you a leaner look, as well as improving your general health.

Dr. Jim Spaulding is a full-time practicing chiropractor of 37 years. He has written numerous articles on the subject of diet and exercise.

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