First For Women

What’s the best way to build muscle?


Q: My doctor advised that I start strength training to avoid losing muscle, but I don’t want to invest in a bunch of weights, and I know I won’t use a gym membership. What else can I try?

A: Muscle mass naturally declines by about 3% to 8% every decade after we turn 30, and muscle loss accelerate­s even more after age 60. This can often lead to a condition called sarcopenia, which is marked by muscle weakness, loss of muscle definition and difficulty walking or standing. And while strength training is one of the most common methods for combatting muscle loss, I can assure you that you don’t have to use weights to preserve and build muscle.

Instead, I recommend giving tai chi a try. Polish researcher­s found the easy, gentle movements, which are similar to yoga, are as effective at building muscle as other forms of exercise. Plus, its gentleness helps reduce inflammati­on to combat the soreness that other exercises may cause. And you don’t need to spend money on a local tai chi class or a gym membership since you can find free instructio­nal videos on YouTube by searching “tai chi practice.”

In addition, consider supplement­ing with vitamins D and K-2, nutrients that are essential for musclebuil­ding. In fact, a study published in the journal Clinical Interventi­ons in Aging found that adults who were deficient in vitamin D (and many of us are during the fall and winter) had 87% weaker muscles than those with adequate levels, but subjects who took the supplement duo improved muscle mass and strength by up to 40%.

The study-proven dose: 2,000 IU of vitamin D-3 and 90 mcg. of K-2 daily, which you can get from a supplement like Nature Made D3 + K2 Softgels (available at drugstores).

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