Lean and mean

Adhering to workout regimen leads to an array of physical, mental benefits

By Deb Dittner

FITNESSHow do you build and maintain lean muscle and protect your bones from damage?

Supporting physical fitness through a variety of programs is key to a healthy life whether you like to hit the gym on a daily basis, walk with friends or your dog, attend yoga classes (or use an app such as Down Dog), and so many more options too numerous to list.

A clean nutritional program and lifestyle management is important in addition to movement to support overall health.

As you age, it is important to build strength to keep your metabolism strong. Building lean muscle helps in the balance of blood sugar and supporting thyroid and hormone function. Generally speaking, the greater the lean muscle you maintain, the greater your metabolic rate.

Metabolic rate is the number of calories your body burns to maintain important bodily functions such as breathing, thinking and your heart beating. By being active, your muscles will burn more calories than fat, requiring sound nutrition.

As you exercise and build muscle, your heart will pump more blood effectively, supporting a healthy blood pressure and improving circulation. When you exercise, your heart — also a muscle — becomes stronger, allowing for you to do a better job in daily life.

As you build in strength training, you will be naturally balancing your blood sugar. Sugar is brought to your muscles to use as fuel, therefore aiding in the removal of glucose from the blood. For those just starting out, you can use cans of soup or filled water bottles for many arm movements.

Have you heard of a “runners high?” Those of you who are runners know exactly what I’m referring to. As you run or perform the exercise of your choice, your body releases endorphins that are chemicals resulting in a natural high-mood booster. Exercise decreases stress and leads to increased self-esteem, confidence, improved sleep and overall emotional health.

By increasing your muscle mass, you are also improving the health and protection of your joints and bones. The more strength your muscles have, the less your joints have to work for movement. Physical fitness helps in maintaining the spine, hips, knees and ankles to achieve daily activity while increasing bone strength and density.

There are key nutrients when it comes to bone building: calcium, magnesium, zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin D, to name a few. Eating a variety of alkalizing nutrients also help in the reduction of toxic metals in your body. Incorporate foods such as onions, garlic, and ginger, cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. These high-fiber foods aid in the excretion of toxic metals while fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir protect the gut.

Hydrate with pure filtered water daily, drinking half of your weight in ounces. This will aid in flushing out toxins and providing much needed fluid for bodily functions. Add a bit of Vitamin C by adding slices or orange, lemon or lime, berries, cucumber slices and even mint.


• Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at www.debdittner.com or contact her at 518-596-8565.