You may have heard the term sarcopenia. It is defined as the age-related loss of muscle mass and muscle function. For a long time, this was considered a normal part of ageing, but we know now that this is not the case and does not have to be that way. Too many people think that losing muscle as they get older is just the way it goes but do not realize that with regular strength training exercise and better nutrition they can maintain and grow muscle at any age.
Use it or lose it?
It is true that as we age, we tend to lose our muscle at a faster pace especially if we are sedentary. Sarcopenia can negatively affect our daily lives by not allowing us to lift and move heavy objects. We can become more susceptible to falls because of lack of balance as well. How do we know if we are suffering with sarcopenia? For sure if our muscles seem to suddenly become smaller this is an indication. Other signs can include feeling weaker than usual, lack of endurance, and difficulty going upstairs Poor nutrition with minimal protein can be another contributing factor. Eating too many processed foods can negatively impact our muscle mass. An increase of fat is largely associated with a decrease in muscle and vice versa.
It is important to note that what we weigh does not really give us a true picture of our fat to muscle ratio. You can be 160 pounds of fat or 160 pounds of mostly muscle, but your hormones will know the difference as they will be regulated and perform better if you have more muscle. Some people can be in their 60’s and 70’s and look like they are in their 30’s. This is because they are physically active. Likewise, others can be in their early 40, s and if they sit behind a desk all day and do very little to no exercise, they can look like they are much older. This is a direct reflection of the quality and quantity of their muscles.
Can sarcopenia be reversed?
Absolutely. We can grow muscle at any age. Resistance training is the most important type of exercise you can do to gain muscle. You can simply start with body weight but if you are dealing with a significant muscle loss it is necessary to add weights or resistance bands. The total gym machines are ideal for muscle growth as you are well supported on the machine and have the ability to add more resistance by how you position the cables and platform. To see results, it is necessary to establish a routine and get into the habit of training at least twice a week. This session must be planned just like a dentist or doctor appointment. If you do not set aside the time in your calendar, you will be setting yourself up for disaster. Excuses are too easy especially when it comes to time.
Why is muscle important for our health?
Skeletal muscle contributes to your overall metabolic rate. It is easier to maintain a healthy weight when you have muscle. It has also been shown to deter diseases that are associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Joint pain is often a sign of lack of muscle as joints take more load when you have less muscle to depend on. A simple movement like bending down to pick something off the floor can be difficult if your core and legs are weak. Too often people end up with low back pain and suffer simply because of a lack of strong legs and core. Some ageing adults end up in assisted living homes simply because they do not have the strength to get out of bed on their own. Do not let this happen to you!