Your muscles burn food and fat to produce energy — and keeping them strong helps reverse the metabolism slowdown that occurs after age 40. Plus, Yale University researchers say healthy muscles improve balance and stimulate bone growth, cutting your risk of falls and osteoporosis by 75 percent. Here are four ways to boost your muscle strength without ever picking up a dumbbell!
Breathing deeply for 15 minutes daily slashes the production of tissue-damaging stress hormones, cutting the risk of muscle shrinkage in half, suggests a study in Clinical Endocrinology. Spend that time picturing yourself exercising like fitness icon Denise Austin, and you could boost strength by 20 percent in three months. Canadian scientists say simply visualizing a workout prompts the brain to release muscle-building hormones.
Savor an Omelet
Adding a few ounces of protein to your morning meal (like two eggs, a cup of Greek yogurt, or an ounce of hard cheese) can cut your risk of muscle shrinkage by 50 percent, plus help build 40 percent more lean muscle in the next three months. Swedish researchers say an early dose of protein fuels muscle growth much more quickly and effectively than protein eaten later in the day.
Sip Another Cup
Enjoy two mugs of tea daily, and you’ll build 14 percent more muscle tissue in two months, say West Virginia University scientists. Explains pathologist Leslie Shen, PhD, tea is rich in polyphenols that curb the production of muscle-aging inflammation.
Vitamin D-3 (the “sunshine vitamin”) is so essential for healthy muscles that 3,000 IU daily can halt and reverse muscle shrinkage, say Cornell scientists, which will then boost muscle strength by up to 33 percent in three months. Endocrinologist Mari Castro, MD, adds that D-3 helps keep body-balancing leg muscles strong. Note: Check with a doctor before supplementing.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.