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by Diane Spicer
Aging hikers face many changes in their trail hardened bodies.
Here's one that's correlated with aging, but which can be slowed down by simply doing the thing we love (you did say hiking, right?)
Did you guess that it would be related to your muscles?
I'm talking about loss of skeletal muscle mass over time.
Ever seen the cells which are responsible for getting you out and back again?
Notice how there's a cozy relationship between the skeletal muscle cells (also called "fibers") and the fat cells.
That has to do with their jobs.
Skeletal muscle cells will shorten or lengthen, depending upon what you are doing on the hiking trail:
Fat cells store energy, and will release that energy when given the correct chemical signals.
Who needs the energy?
You guessed it, the neighboring muscle cells...
which translates into the energy you feel and call upon when you're hiking.
This is all well and good in a young, active hiker's body.
But if that hiker stops hiking and passes the 30 year mark or so, the skeletal muscle cells begin to be replaced by fat cells (and some ropey connective tissue).
Will ex-hikers notice this?
So to slow down this unwanted conversion of muscle into fat as an aging hiker, stay active!
In other words, every day give your body plenty of excuses to burn some of that stored energy (i.e. fat) and keep your skeletal muscle cells plentiful.
Bottom line for hikers over the age of 30:
Endurance and strength training can reverse, or at least slow down, loss of muscle performance associated with aging.
And that is truly great news for aging or elder hikers!
Use it as one more motivator to get out on that trail and have a great time.
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