Lift light and often
When it comes to rejuvenating muscles, resistance training is key. "While many of the adults in our survey reported exercising, cardio was really preferred. Only about a quarter of those people are actually lifting weights," says Abbott's registered dietitian Tiffany Dewitt. "Evidence has really shown that doing those exercises can help you maintain your muscle." Lift light and often, and increase your reps and weight as soon as any one exercise begins to seem too simple. Focus on the entire body—think arms, chest, back, legs, and abdominals, and don't rule out strength-building classes like yoga and Pilates. Here are ways to get stronger arms without having to lift weights.
Double up on protein
iStock/Willie B. Thomas
In the Abbott-AARP survey, 62 percent of adults believed they get enough protein, and 70 percent reported increasing their intake of high-protein foods to minimize their risk of muscle loss. But interestingly, only 17 percent said they knew how much protein they needed. So what's best for adults? Up to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of weight (or for an 150 pound person, 102 grams). That's about double the amount recommended for people under 50, who under general circumstances only need between 0.6 and 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram. Dewitt recommends speaking with your doctor about protein intake and goals. Here are smart ways to load up on lean protein.
Include protein in all three meals
Instead of cramming in your protein requirements with a steak at dinner, aim to balance your protein intake throughout the day. One University of Texas study found a 25 percent increase in muscle protein synthesis when protein intake was divided evenly into 30-gram servings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as opposed to when it was doled out randomly with an 11-gram serving at breakfast, 16 grams at lunch, and 63 grams at dinner. So how much is 30 grams of protein? Think a three-egg omelet with a half-cup of feta cheese, or a piece of meat or poultry the size of an iPhone. Here's how to eat more protein at breakfast and eat more protein at lunch.
Try a pomegranate
A pomegranate a day keeps muscle loss at bay? Recent research shows that might true. Although the benefits of this so-called super fruit have so far only been tested on lab animals, one study published in Nature Medicine found them worth noting. Scientists who worked on the report found a molecule in pomegranates that, when transformed by microbes in the gut, enables muscle cells to protect themselves against the dysfunctional mitochondria associated with age. Human clinical trials are currently underway, but we'll add these delicious fruits to our diet regardless. Here are more benefits of pomegranates you didn't know about.
Get some sun
A little extra sunshine is good for both your body and soul. Research has proven that vitamin-D—which humans mostly obtain through exposure to sunlight—can improve conditions like muscle weakness. Alternatively, studies have found that vitamin D deficiencies can lead to muscle wasting. Harness everything the sun has to offer by taking your workout outside. Don't miss these cheery quotes about sunshine that will inspire you to look up.