We all want to live long. We all want to live well. We all expect some kind of "downhill" as we age, but the last thing we wish for ourselves is an uncontrollable downward slide toward death. We usually talk about disease avoidance which is a supremely worthy topic. There is another topic that we all need to think about, muscle building.
The first thing that came to most people's minds when I said muscle building was a muscle-bound hulking bodybuilder. That is not what I am talking about. I propose that we begin to think of muscle building as longevity building as well as building structural integrity. Nobody wants a structure to fall on their heads and their life to get cut short. We all want and dream of the same thing, long life that is vibrant and as youthful as possible. Some have reduced their thinking to accept that their senior years are full of problems, disease, pains, and a certain amount of frailty. This is unacceptable, and that type of thinking should be rejected. That is not our destiny from our Creator, who has endowed us with a body that is resilient and capable of living long, strong, and healthy.
Because of many different biological functions, muscle building is fundamental to longevity and healthy living. Let's talk about one of them. More mitochondria. Mitochondria are little engines within your cells. Depending on the cells, each cell has 100,000-600,000 mitochondria. These engines fuel each cell so it can do its job. The science of all of this is complicated, but one thing is simple to understand, the more mitochondria you have, the more engines you have to power your life. You can't grow your liver or any other organ, including your skin, to increase your mitochondria. You can, however, grow your muscles.
Studies show as we age, we lose muscle. From the time we are 30, we lose between 3-8% per decade of muscle mass. As we get older, our muscle loss accelerates. That means in the decade of our 60s, we lose more muscle than in our 30s. As we lose muscle, we lose,… mitochondria. Remember those little guys are our engines. They are life! They take oxygen and nutrients and make the cell work. They not only make that cell work but each cell is networked into the whole body; therefore, the loss of cell function is problematic for the entire body. The more muscle you have, the more mitochondria you will have. The more mitochondria you have, the more engines of life you will have. When we lose mitochondria because of muscle loss, we lose metabolic function. When we lose metabolic function, we lose our battle with disease and frailty.
How can you live longer and better? Keep the muscle you have and build more of it. Our muscle mass peaks in our 20s, but it doesn't have to. "They" tell us that we will lose muscle, but it doesn't have to be! The wonderfully engineered body God gave us has mechanisms to build muscle at any age! I propose that younger people begin to build muscle and never stop. I am not recruiting competitive bodybuilders. I am encouraging all of us to be in the business of muscle building rather than muscle atrophy. We have the ability to control our muscle mass to a large extent. The question we all must answer is, do we want to put in the work to be muscle builders? It is up to us. How we do it is not as complicated as we think. I will encourage everyone to do it with wisdom to avoid mobility issues and over/underdevelopment of different body parts.
I want to excite you in your ability to determine your future body structure. You can be the builder of muscle, creating more mitochondria to serve that muscle. Those mitochondria also serve the entire body. This biology is excellent news because this means that we have a say in how we age. Whether young or old, you can build muscle and brighten your future. It is time to hit the gym, the floor, the trail, the sidewalk, or the pool. Let's go!