If you needed help moving something from A to B, who would you ask ?
This is my story so your options are somewhat limited, you cannot call in the incredible hulk or some other masculine superhero, you can either choose Great Aunt Sue or Cousin Erma. Great Aunt Sue weighs in at around 60 kg, but Cousin Erma is a hefty 80 kg, both ladies are in their sixties.
I would choose the rounder one, reasoning the more of you there is, the stronger you are, especially when you bear in mind those physics equations. You know the ones that connect force with mass.
The physics is wrong
A study from the University of New Hampshire has shown that hefty old ladies don’t obey the rules of physics.
Fatter older ladies have weaker legs.
The research team put a number of old legs through their paces. Leg strength, walking speed and power were all recorded, along with the weight the legs were routinely holding up.
Leg power problems
Thin legs and fat legs were about the same in terms of absolute strength. The big difference emerged when the strength-to-weight ratio was calculated.
Overweight women were on average 24 percent weaker in terms of muscle strength. The reduced muscle strength leaves these women with less power and speed.
A particularly problematic situation to be in, considering that the extra weight means the muscles need to work a lot harder to move the more of you around.
Weaker legs means that it more difficult to do regular day to day stuff – like lift yourself out of a chair or climb up a flight of stairs.
And when push comes to shove – the odds of toppling over rise, the weaker those leg muscles are.
Forget the tummy tuck you need leg lifts
Leg strength is vital for independent living.
Health gurus spend a lot of time encouraging weight loss, but more often than not, going on diet leaves you with a little less fat and a lot less muscle.
If you’re an older adult, sporting a few extra pounds, the best health move might not be another yo-yo diet. Rather embark on a programme to build stronger legs – a strong set of legs will help keep you functionally mobile i.e. you can take care of yourself.
Leg building is easier than weight loss
Losing weight is a fraught with difficulty as your body is programmed to hold onto it’s special stash of fat, which it has squirreled away for a rainy day.
Building muscle is actually a lot easier than you think – you don’t need an expensive gym membership to firm up those leg muscles.
The key to building muscles is to tire them out.
And lift, and lift and one more lift
Most of the time when your muscle starts to feel a little tired, you stop. But the secret to muscle building is to persist beyond the point of being a little sore to the point of exhaustion. Your muscle needs to scream “ I AM TOO TIRED TO DO ONE MORE”.
At this point, you’ve done enough stretching to create some wear and tear. As your muscle patches up the “damage”, it ends up building new muscle, leaving you a little stronger.
Next time round, you’ll find you can do one more before you get to “ I AM TOO TIRED TO DO ONE MORE”.
Too much fat over a period of time puts you at risk of all sorts of health problems, but if you’re weight watching remember you need to watch your muscle mass, not just your total mass.Fat mass limits lower-extremity relative strength and maximal walking performance in older women. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 2011; 21 (5): 754 Dain P. LaRoche, Rachel J. Kralian, Erica D. Millett.
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