Author Archives: rslitwin19

Muscle Mass Predicts Longevity in Older Adults

A patient told me this week – “even if you just send an quick email just to tell us to get off our glueteus maximus – that will work”   I am glad the emails are helpful for some of you.

 I am back on track now…. Thank you for your patience!

 A patient sent me an article today from the American Journal of Medicine- Muscle Mass Predicts Longevity in Older Adults.
Great timing as today’s email is about how exercise – specifically strength training – gives the muscles what they need. Last email we focused on cardiovascular exercise. Strength training gives the muscles something else they need, that cardiovascular exercise does not.

 It turns out that Body Mass Index (BMI) according to this study – does not tell if someone is going to live longer after age 55 for men and 65 for women – but the amount of muscle a person has does make a big difference! The more muscle you have the lower your risk of dying from any cause.

 BMI does not tell about how much muscle and fat is in the body – only body weight for height. And it is not easy to tell if we have lost muscle. The scale does not tell us that we lost or gained muscle.

 How do we know if we have lost muscle – we are weaker, metabolism seems slower, we seemed to get injured easily, daily tasks are more tiring, posture is worse, knees and back hurt more, bones fracture easier – all signs of muscle loss.   Signs of muscle gain are the opposite.

 Thing is that the muscles NEED to be used.   After age 40 – we need to work a bit harder to keep our muscle. They REALLY NEED to be used on a regular basis. And doing cardiovascular exercise does not do it well enough.

 If you want to age well, stay independent, do all kinds of great things in retirement, keep your weight off you are counting on your muscles to be there when you need them.

 Use it or lose it definitely applies here! Big time!

 Strength training – challenging every muscle fiber you can on a regular basis gives the muscles what they need so they are there for you.

 The Prescription: 8-12 repetitions, 1-3 sets of exercises for all major muscle groups 2-3 days a week (not two days in a row) ie: every other day

 So the next time you are doing strength training (like… today? Or tomorrow?) –as you challenge your muscles – think of it as simply giving the muscles what they need.

 Give them what they need – you get what you want.

 It really is that simple.

 Keep Moving, Be Well,


Leave a comment

by | August 24, 2014 · 7:54 pm

The Power of Play


“As adults we have quite a bit of work to do, and play seems to function as a protective mechanism against the costs of this work; a buffer against stress, a support during life transitions, a means of forming bonds and alliances, a jump start for creativity and problem-solving.” – Christine Caldwell

The past few weeks we have been looking at “How exercise gives the body what it needs” Well, I interrupt the series this week and invite us all to play!

Yes, play!

Get out and just have fun, moving in any way that you can right now, just for the fun of it! I took my younger children to the Boston Children’s Museum last week. I was reminded of the huge value of play. (their web site offers very convincing research on the subject). Play is not only important for children… adults can benefit from it too – maybe even more so because it is not something we adults do naturally. (most adults anyway:) Play is connected to creativity, problem solving, social connections, learning, health and communication.How about playing computer games, that’s play right?? First of all, you already know about sitting disease. Computer games are missing key components that make play so beneficial; live in person social interaction, movement, etc.

So, this has me thinking – How can we make exercise more of play time?

Can we let go a little of the need to accomplish and just enjoy moving in some way. Without the rules like “I have to do 30 minutes or it doesn’t count” or “go big or go home” or “I have to get my heart rate up to___” or “I need to keep up with everyone else” or “I don’t want to look foolish” Movement is more playful when it is done with a childlike sense of curiosity and wonder, enjoying what we CAN do vs. focusing on what it cannot do right now. Many of the “rules” about exercise are for sports performance. Yes, to excel in a sport or physical activity, we need to be regimented in our training. When the goal is improving health and weight, the rules are a bit more relaxed. In fact, if it is too stressful, we are undoing many of the positive health benefits of exercise. Focusing on play keeps exercise from getting stressful and heightens the wellbeing benefits.

So, let’s all take it a little less serious – and get out for some serious play. Enjoy moving, laughing, connecting, learning……

Please reply with any great ways you make movement more playful!

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

– Janet.

Leave a comment

by | August 20, 2014 · 8:04 pm