There are few constants in life. One such constant, however, is the aging process. The majority would throw up their hands and say that it is inevitable, and resign themselves to doing little or nothing to slow its effects. Evidence of this is reflected in the undisputed increased deterioration of the health status in all age groups all across the United States today. One wonders how we, as a society, can be more and more informed and educated about proper dieting and exercise, yet still lead such unhealthy life-styles. Many Americans appear reluctant to take serious interest in their level of health and fitness until they have smoked, drank, lounged around, and eaten their way into a corner.
More often than not, this can be a much tighter corner than they realize. The longer one spends practicing unhealthy life-style habits, the more rapid certain aging effects occur, i.e. increased vulnerability to illness/disease and injury, muscle wasting, fat accumulation, body tissue and organ disorders, etc. The longer a newly reformed fitness enthusiast has spent inflicting damage on his/her body, the longer it will take for a fitness regimen to impose a substantial positive effect upon body composition. On the other hand, there are several immediate and noticeable health benefits experienced by the aging "newby" fitness enthusiast having to do primarily with their level of cardiorespiratory fitness which is a plus. As personal fitness trainers, it is your job to assist the above multitude of aging fitness "newbies" in their transition from an unhealthy to a healthier life-style. Long-term health and fitness requires dedication and consistency. To prescribe a diet and select activities the newby can not only live with, but even enjoy, is the ultimate goal. A major part of this transition deals with the ever illusive improvement in body composition. It is this body composition and aging that is, to a certain extent, the subject of this piece. And, when it comes to this subject, a re-education in our society seems in order. Let’s open up the problem and look inside.
Insulin Receptor Sites Are The Key To Tissue Longevity
It is unfortunate but true that our diets generally consist of several times more carbohydrates than protein. The ingestion of complex carbohydrates (carbs that require more time to be broken down-a good thing), is usually considered healthy, but this is not always the case. It is currently being found that low activity and high complex carbohydrate intake will contribute to additional fat accumulation especially in adults 40 years or older. Why? It’s time we introduced you to the "Insulin Receptor Site." These "doors" proliferate the muscle cell membrane and allow Insulin to carry glucose and amino acids into the muscle. As we age, regardless of how active or inactive we have been throughout our lives, there will come a time when these doors cease to function properly. The less muscular activity we perform throughout our lives, the sooner these doors begin to shut down. Granted, this shut-down is inevitable, but it can be significantly offset through the regular performance of resistance exercise involving as much total muscle mass as possible. Resistance exercise performance (along with a healthy diet), is one of the most effective weapons you have in the war to fight aging. Aerobic activity is as valuable but is often times abused to the detriment of lean tissue maintenance, and lean tissue maintenance is crucial in slowing the aging process in body tissue. Aerobic activity, while extremely important to overall fitness, does very little to "exercise" receptor sites. Simply stated, too many older fitness enthusiasts tend to focus too much on aerobic activity and not enough on resistance training. There needs to be a balance of the two. Without resistance exercise, aerobics alone and a low calorie diet will cause a cannibalism of muscle and organ tissue, obviously a detriment to a more favorable body composition. Let’s get back to receptor sites.
If these "doors" are closed, which occurs when Insulin is absent (occurring most commonly in the younger subject), or when doors are not functioning properly (generally occurring in the aging subject), fatty acids become the only external source of nutrients for the muscle and it has no choice but to resort to using intercellular nutrients glucose and structural proteins for energy. These internal energy sources are supposed to be reserved for quick bursts of energy. When receptor sites shut down for long periods (either due to inadequate complex carbohydrate ingestion on the part of the younger subject, or due to receptor site dysfunction on the part of the older subject), reserved "quick energy" may be compromised. What does all this mean? The younger subject who is intermittently muscle energy deficient for poor dietary reasons, would possess, on these occasions, less energy upon strenuous exertion; while the older subject may experience difficulty finding the energy to perform moderately strenuous tasks at any given time because receptor site dysfunction is a more regular occurrence.
The Effects of Diet & Exercise on Longevity
Insulin receptor sites shut down slowly with aging (more rapidly while performing little or now strenuous work), because they have to function so seldom in providing replacement insulin carried nutrients to the relatively sedentary muscles. The ability to metabolize carbohydrates for ATP production is essential for insuring prolonged life since the bi-products of glucose metabolism are of extremely low toxicity and therefor spares anti-bodies. These spared anti-bodies then are available to neutralize otherwise life-shortening free radicals, bacteria and carcinogens. The presence of anti-bodies are what constitutes, in part, our immune system protecting us from illness and disease. To complicate matters even more, the body’s inability to metabolize glucose (carbs), via poor receptor site function, leads to the Liver’s production of an alternative energy source, acetate. This acetate accompanies a toxin known as keto-acid. This keto-acid must then be "neutralized" by anti-bodies. Once again minimizing anti-body detoxification of other various disease and illness causing free radicals. In the final analysis, even the immune system suffers when receptor sites begin to shut down with aging. Since we know that strenuous exercise keeps these door hinges oiled, providing proper insulin-carried nutrients for healthy muscle structure and function, fitness professionals can ill afford NOT to recommend the performance of strenuous resistance exercise to ALL their clients, young and old! The bottom line… EAT RIGHT & EXERCISE SMART!