In the course of finding and reading the results of scientific research into the hugely beneficial effects of exercise on being older, one thing has jumped out at us, the importance of maintaining good muscle mass and tone - something we have written about time and again! When one looks at ‘normal’ older people, much of the ‘decline due to age’ can be put down to muscle deterioration and loss, with the consequent weakness and frailty which is so debilitating. So one can appreciate the effect of muscles on health. But what about the effect of muscles on ... language?
One of the major constituent parts of language is ‘verbs’. Verbs, as we’re sure you know, are words that describe actions, commonly described as ‘doing words’. All actions are only made possible through the existence of muscles. Every move you make of any description uses a surprisingly large number of the over six hundred muscles that make up a substantial percentage of your body. No muscle, no movement. Therefore without muscle there would be no need for the concept of verbs in any sense. Get up out of a chair and walk across the room? Can’t be done without skeletal muscle. Etc etc.
So... no muscle, no verbs. And no adverbs, either. Maybe half of language gone at a stroke.
It goes further than that, even. Without the muscles involved in speech - the digastric, masseter, stylohyoid, mylohyoid, genihyoid, pterygoid muscles, the temporalis to mention just a few - you would not be able to move your tongue or lips to create the sounds of the verbs that you’d not have need of. Nor would you be able to inhale, to draw in the air - using the sternocleidomastoid and the scalene muscles - and then allow the lungs the contract to expel the air across your vocal chords in order to make the sounds that your lips and tongue would then shape into the unnecessary verbs. There would be no singing, no music, even - the word ‘playing’ as in playing the piano is definitely a verb.
One could even go further. No muscles to enable you to inhale the air to then be expelled across the vocal chords actually means .... no life!
So you really can see the fundamental importance of skeletal muscle to life, and to all activity. No Muscle no life. And since one thing that all medical scientists agree on is that at a certain age you start to lose muscle, that muscle starts to atrophy, you can imagine that as this process happens, over time it will gradually reduce your ability to take part in not just the sports and exercise that we write about on these pages, but all the physical activities of daily life. Everything will become more difficult and less achievable and the range of activities that you might enjoy will gradually shrink to a smaller and smaller pool of possibilities. Less muscle, less of a life. There is no consensus on the age at which the atrophy begins, most people accept that it has certainly started by the age of fifty, but one article proposed that it starts as early as in your thirties!
However, it is not all doom and gloom, because there is also a growing consensus that the progress of losing muscle is not unalterable. This is something that you can do something about. You can slow your muscle loss by your own actions. By adding resistance training to your exercise regime, you can slow the loss to a marked extent, and we at SGSC are in no doubt that in fact at any age muscle can be rebuilt, with all the fundamental benefits to health and quality of life that brings.
You spend a long time in the early part of life learning language, so don’t let mistaken ideas about getting older reduce, or take away entirely, your need for using verbs.