Here's why you need to focus on muscle health as you get older

Muscles are important for movement and must be preserved as we age in order to maintain strength and function
One should exercise daily, and adopt healthy lifestyle habits to maintain muscles as you age
One should exercise daily, and adopt healthy lifestyle habits to maintain muscles as you age

Building and maintaining a robust immune system is important for leading healthy, wholesome lives, and now, this is truer than ever. People with chronic illnesses need a healthy immune system to prevent minor infections from turning more serious. While it is commonly recognised that eating a healthy, balanced diet helps to create a robust immune system, most people are ignorant of the negative effects that weak muscle health can have on immunity.

The Connection Between Muscles, the Immune System and Disease Management

Since muscles are important for movement and must be preserved as we age in order to maintain strength and function, muscles matter. Data suggests that muscles are also involved in immunological functions. Compounds produced and released by muscles are crucial for the development, activation, and movement of some immune cells. Additionally, they are important suppliers of amino acids that the body needs when under stress or infected.

Sources state that both men's and women's physiologies alter after the age of 40. More crucially, between the ages of 40 and 80, the body begins to lose muscle mass more quickly (up to 33 per cent quicker). A recent study reveals that loss of muscle mass can contribute to weakened immunity and more infections. Low muscle mass and insufficient protein consumption may also hinder the body's reaction to an injury or infection. 

Experts say that everyone should put their muscle health first in order to avoid losing muscle as they age, but people with chronic diseases need to be especially careful. For instance, illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disorders, and others can hasten the loss of muscle. 

Can a healthy lifestyle help address muscle health concerns? The answer is yes.

Maintaining good health, supporting muscles, and aiding in blood sugar control all depends upon regular exercise. You should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. The benefits of physical exercise are plenty. Research shows that when we include physical activity it helps reduce abdominal obesity, improves our lipid profile; insulin sensitivity, and reduces blood pressure

Chair challenge test

A chair challenge test is an easy way to test your muscle strength, understand your muscle age and adopt any timely corrective measures. The time you take to do five sit-ups on a chair if you are an approximate height 43 cms (1.4 feet) can tell you your muscle age. For example, for males between 40 and 50 years of muscle age, it should take about 6.8 to 7.5 seconds and for females, the time taken should be 6.9 to 7.4 seconds to perform the test.

In addition to exercising and adopting healthy lifestyle habits, incorporating good nutrition practices into our daily lives is also essential.

Maintain a balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats

Eat enough protein-rich foods like chicken, seafood, eggs, nuts, beans, and dairy. Adults should aim to eat about 15 to 20 grams of protein per major meal. However, adults over the age of 65 may need more protein than younger adults - particularly those with a health setback. You should prioritize quality foods that contain micronutrients to support a healthy immune system, such as vitamin C, zinc, vitamin E, vitamin A and vitamin D.

Getting all the nutrients required to appropriately support the health of your muscles and the immune system is not always simple. This is made much more difficult for those with chronic illnesses who also need to manage their prescriptions and daily routines and who believe they don't have enough time to prepare meals and snacks in advance. To fill in the gaps and guarantee adequate nutrient intake, you can choose to take specific nutritional supplements as part of a healthy lifestyle programme.

(Inputs IANS: Dr Irfan Shaikh, Head, Medical & Scientific Affairs at Abbott’s Nutrition business)

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