April 5, 2004
Even if you’re in the autumn of your years, two recent news features showed how you can put some spring in your step and possibly extend your lifespan through strength training and calorie reduction.
While most people gradually begin to lose muscle mass in their late 20s and early 30s, it doesn’t become a potential health risk until they reach 60. Sarcopenia, a debilitating loss of muscle mass that can rob people of their mobility, affects an estimated 17% of people by age 75.
Fortunately, lifting weights appears to ward off muscle loss while strengthening bones — and gerontologists say it’s never too late to start lifting! Frailty and dementia are the two plagues of old age and pumping iron will help keep seniors strong and independent. For further reading, here is a worthwhile article: Catch-Up Fitness.
This just in: Cutting back on calories even later in life can help make it a longer one. Previous research showed that starting young mice on a restricted calorie diet can lead them to live twice as long as those on standard diets, but a new study just published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that fewer calories also can benefit older mice, increasing their lifespan by more than 40%.
Whether the same benefits will accrue to humans remains to be proved, but if they do, lead researcher Stephen Spindler says “this could mean a lot more years and a lot of good years. The mice on calorie restriction live longer and they are healthier.”
Bottom line: Even if you’re long in the tooth, watch what you nibble if you aren’t ready to bite the dust.