There’s a saying that something is like riding a bike, you can’t forget it. There is a bit of truth in that. We may not remember the last time we rode a bike, but as soon as we get on one, we immediately know what to do. Or rather, our muscles do. It is thanks to their memory that we know how to do certain things, to do them automatically and without thinking.
A growing body of research suggests that the effects of physical activity, especially at a young age, can have many beneficial effects later in life when we want to restore lost muscle mass or maintain current muscle mass.
Muscles are made up of particularly malleable tissue. They can shrink or grow due to prevailing conditions. Exercise promotes hypertrophy, or the growth of muscle mass. Malnutrition or a sedentary lifestyle cause them to shrink – atrophy.
Researchers point to studies that demonstrate the ease with which muscle mass recovers from sudden atrophy (such as that caused by illness or accident) in people who played sports before it. Those who didn’t exercise very often will have to spend much more time and effort to rebuild muscle. Astronauts who have been in weightlessness face similar problems.
As you age, your muscles slowly lose their flexibility and ability to expand. The muscular atrophy associated with aging is sacropenia. That’s why it makes sense to stay active with your future and health in old age in mind. Playing sports and eating a healthy diet increase your chances of staying mobile and independent for as long as possible.
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