We often hear people saying they want to lose weight, have slimmer arms and calves, or flatten their stomachs. But not too many are heard saying they want to build up their muscles.
Now, one can only conclude that it points to a lack of awareness among the general population, given the fact that muscle growth is one of the key factors of a well-shaped and healthy body.
With age come a lot of health problems, such as osteoporosis, sarcopenia and joint degeneration. With insufficient muscles, the elders may gain weight easily and thus accelerate the joint degeneration. It will be difficult for them to walk and stand, which will increase the risk of falling as they may lose their balance easily.
Prevention is better than cure. People will slowly lose their muscles after they reach the age of 40. We should build and maintain our muscles through three means: exercise, diet, and rest.
Weight-bearing exercise, also known as resistance training, builds up muscles through contracting and relaxing the muscles repetitively.
At home, water bottles can be used as tools for the training. It is recommended that beginners start with big-muscles training, which includes muscle groups in the buttocks, thighs, chest, back, and abdomen.
Use the dumbbell from light to heavy. Do four to six sets every day, with 15 reps per set. Exhale while contracting the muscles; inhale while relaxing the muscles. At the beginning, you may do lunges and squats.
And it is best to have a personal trainer with you to prevent injury when you are new to weight training. Keep in mind that running, cycling, and swimming represent aerobic exercise, which is meant to enhance cardio endurance and not to increase muscles.
Besides exercising, we should also pay attention to our diet so that our bodies have enough nutrients for muscle growth.
Protein is a must-have to boost the muscles. It can be obtained from meats, eggs, milk, and soymilk. It is also essential to keep track of the average intake of protein. For instance, if one weighs 60 kilograms, then their daily average protein intake should be 60g. Protein should also be obtained equally throughout the day.
Last but not least, sleep and rest are indispensable for building up muscles. We should have a regular sleep schedule, as it helps the body to absorb nutrients better. After exercising, muscles need time to recover and prepare for the next round of training.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 5
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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