Live longer: ‘The single most important factor’ associated with slow ageing according to dietician

Senior person looking out window

Keeping the muscles in motion may extend healthspan

Solen Le Net

By Solen Le Net

Published: 26/02/2024

- 17:56

Updated: 08/03/2024

- 19:28

Building and maintaining muscle mass may be the key to optimum health according to experts

Longevity has become a subject of fascination among scientists, with experts desperate to unveil the secrets of living disease-free.

Though the answers appear to be multi-faceted, evidence frequently highlights a handful of factors that correlate with old age.

Among them is muscle mass, one of the cornerstones of optimal health, according to registered dietician Zoe Cottrell.

Zoe explains that having enough muscle may be the most important buffer against side effects of ageing.

Weights at the gym

Increasing muscle mass may offer protection against chronic diseases


“The single most important factor associated with slow ageing is ensuring you maintain muscle mass,” the expert declared in a conversation with GB News.

Emerging research shows that muscle protein synthesis, where the body rebuilds and repairs muscle tissue from amino acids, slows down as we age.

“[This] means we lose lean muscle mass more quickly, which can lead to loss of strength and reduced mobility,” explained the expert.

Moreover, a consensus is building among scientists that strength training and cardio are vital components for longevity due to their inverse associations with chronic diseases.

Several studies have shown that muscle strength offers protection against stroke, hypertension and diabetes, and other diseases.

“Retaining muscle is how we all remain active and able to do the things we love,” explained Zoe.

“Whether it’s a park run walking the dog, playing tennis or keeping up with the grandchildren, staying strong and healthy as you age is vital.”

Doctor Mohammed Enayat, GP and Founder of HUM2N echoes this advice.

Elderly person hands

​Enhancing muscle mass may be key for prolonging healthspan 


He adds: “I would recommend two types of exercise, the first being strength exercises to help maintain your muscle mass which will preserve joint space, with the proximal muscles being especially important.”

The second recommended type of activity is lower intensity.

“[This] can mean exercise that doesn’t result in your heart rate getting too high, just mildly elevated for around 45 minutes, or otherwise known as Zone two exercise,” notes Dr Enayat. “Examples of this include brisk walking.”

Aside from combatting signs of ageing, keeping the muscles in motion sharpens cognitive health and shields against diseases like Alzheimer’s.

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