Zheng Geping: I’m not quite an uncle yet
Though the actor is 56, his muscle age is in its 30s
Local actor Zheng Geping may be 56 years old, but his muscle age is in its 30s.The Muscle Age Calculator - launched by Abbott's adult nutrition brand Ensure as part of its Stand4Strength Challenge -is based on a person performing the five-times sit-to-stand test as fast as possible, and then matching the test time with the specific biological age group.
Its campaign ambassador Zheng, who first earned the label of "hunkle" of the local entertainment industry in 2010, told The New Paper: "You can imagine how relieved I was to discover that my muscle age is pretty young, even throughout the circuit breaker. I'm not quite an uncle yet.
"I also found out that my biological age does not determine my muscle age, which means my muscles can be young even when I am older if I take the right steps through exercise and nutrition. That is such a great motivator."
Pre-Covid, Zheng's fitness routine featured gym workouts, resistance training and cardio a few days a week. That was disrupted when the circuit breaker took effect.
He said: "One of the biggest challenges I faced during that time was not training with gym equipment, so I improvised at home to preserve muscle mass and stay active."
He took up skipping and incorporated more push-ups to improve his cardio workouts.
He added: "As much as I tried to stay active and keep up my fitness level, I did feel slightly more sluggish and even weaker without the regular resistance training that I was used to doing every other day at the gym.
"It made me realise even more just how important muscle strength is to our overall health and well-being."
His daily diet is packed with protein, calcium and vitamin D, as well as oral nutritional supplements such as Ensure that support muscle tissue building and growth.His breakfast staple is a glass of Ensure Life - his favourite is the wheat variant - and he takes a bottle of Ensure Gold HMB Liquid with him to the gym to drink after his workouts.
He said: "Like most others, I enjoy an occasional slice of cake or glass of wine. But, overall, I try to incorporate as many fresh fruits and vegetables into my diet as possible."
Zheng admitted that ageing has affected his attitude towards fitness, and he hopes to inspire more people to take charge of their muscle health as they get on in years.
His "hunkle" reputation has also been a "great motivator".
He said: "Now in 2020, while my body may not be exactly the same as it was back then, I think I am still quite fit for my age.
"It is definitely getting more challenging to maintain strength and fitness over the years, it ultimately boils down to determination and perseverance.
"And it is not just about how my muscles are looking on the outside, it is also important that I am maintaining a healthy percentage of muscle mass to reduce the risk of age-related muscle loss.
"Strong and healthy muscles allow me to keep doing what I love, such as acting or spending quality time with my family... and (they will) help me stay active well into the next decade of my life."
Maintaining muscle health
Dr Chan Kin Ming, geriatric specialist at Chan KM Geriatric & Medical Clinic, tells The New Paper why maintaining muscle health is important and how to do it.
What is muscle health?
Maintaining healthy muscles is vital to overall health in all stages of life. When muscle health is compromised, it significantly impacts physical function to the point of limiting the body's ability to perform daily activities.
In more severe cases, weakened muscles may result in frailty and loss of independence, leading to a lower quality of life.
What are some myths about muscle age you would like to debunk?
A person in his 40s with poor muscle health could have an older muscle age than an individual in his 50s with healthier muscles. So even if you are young, it is possible you could have less-than-optimal muscle health.
Why is maintaining good muscle health especially crucial during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Muscles support a robust immune system, and muscle mass loss is associated with compromised immunity and infections. More than 10 per cent loss of lean body mass could impair immunity. Given the relationship between muscle mass and immune function, it is all the more important to take action now to ensure healthy and strong muscles.
How does one build back or maintain muscle health?
To help regain your muscle strength safely, first establish a nutritious diet that is rich in protein, or increase your daily protein intake to build your muscle mass. This is especially critical for older adults who require nearly 50 per cent more protein than younger people. Adding oral nutritional supplements that contain HMB (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate) and high-quality protein to your daily diet can also help you meet your nutritional requirements and improve muscle health.
Gradually build up muscle strength by incorporating resistance training.
Remember to give your muscles rest between strength training sessions for a minimum of 48 hours to avoid overexertion and muscle soreness. - CLARISS CHIA