A healthy lifestyle is vital to build muscle strength. After the age of 40, you can lose up to 8% of muscle mass every decade. Even if you are above 40, it’s not too late! There is always a good time to start living a healthy lifestyle and build muscle health.
How to start a healthy lifestyle?
Everyone’s journey is different. Hence, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to adopting a healthy lifestyle. You could consider adopting the “SMART” goals model. What does SMART stand for?
- Time-bound (to meet dateline or get done within a certain amount of time)
For instance, “I want to be able to walk around the park twice a week, by the end of the month”. This objective is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Your objective does not have to be this – it can be whatever you set it to be.
Fuel your body with the right energy
You might need to make changes in your diet in order to reach your goal. Knowing what nutrition your body needs, is a good starting point.
Older adults need more protein to maintain muscle mass
Older adults (above 65) require up to 30% more protein in their diet to maintain the same muscle mass as a young person in their twenties1. In fact, one out of two older Singaporean adults doesn’t get enough daily protein2. Protein is not only for bodybuilders, it’s important for all of us to preserve our muscle mass, strength, mobility, and therefore our independence. After 40, you should start monitoring your varied diet to ensure that it has the right amount of protein.
HMB (beta-Hydroxy-beta-MethylButyrate) is beneficial to muscle health
HMB is produced when the amino acid leucine is metabolised. It also occurs naturally in human muscle cells and is found in very small quantities in food. HMB may help to slow muscle breakdown and preserve muscle mass in healthy older adults. Studies have shown that HMB supplemented throughout old age may improve strength and maintain muscle size3. Even though HMB can be found naturally in food, scientifically proven doses range from 1.5 to 6g per day – this can hardly be achieved without nutritional supplement when knowing that you need to consume 110 eggs to get 3g of HMB 4! You might want to check with your doctor if you need Oral Nutritional Supplements with HMB to preserve and build muscle strength.
Do regular muscle self-screening
In order to assess your progress, it is important to know where you stand today. Since muscle mass is an indicator of health, self-screening methods can evaluate your muscle strength and muscle health. The muscle age calculator* will help to indicate your muscle age, comparing to what is considered normal for your age group. For this test, you will need to sit-to-stand 5 times on both legs with your arms folded, as quickly as you can. If that test is too tiring, you might want to try out SARC-F questionnaire to check whether you are at risk of sarcopenia.
Get moving and be active
Healthy muscles are a key indicator of our overall body health. To maintain muscle health and boost the immune system your body needs to get moving. You don’t need to run a marathon. You could start to walk, cycle, take dance lessons, practice martial arts, or even try a Zumba class online. The important thing here is to find something that you enjoy doing to make it easier to stick to your plans. You can aim for 10 minutes per day and gradually increase by 5 to 10 minutes daily.
One step at a time
Changing to a healthy lifestyle can help bring benefits, both physically and mentally. Do not change everything at once, and remember to set your GOALS based on your current lifestyle and age. If you can do 8 squats today, aim for 10. If you never eat vegetables, incorporate them twice a week at first. Make sure you consult a healthcare professional to check which activities best suit your health status and lifestyle, as this will help you set your own goals. Stay motivated and strong as of today, for a healthier tomorrow.
Take the Muscle Age* test to check your progress!
If you want to check your progress, take the muscle age test before and maybe once a month to check your progress.TAKE TEST NOW
1 Bauer J et al. Evidence-based recommendation for optimal dietary protein intake in older people: a position paper from the PROT-AGE Study Group. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2013 Aug;14 (8): 542-59.
2 Older Adults Need More Protein. Retrieved on 7th September 2021 from https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/2076/seniors-need-more-protein
3 Fitschen PJ et al. Efficacy of β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate supplementation in elderly and clinical populations. Nutrition. 2013 Jan;29 (1): 29-36.
4 Wilson GJ et al. Effects of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) on exercise performance and body composition across varying levels of age, sex, and training experience: A review. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2008 Jan 3;5:1.