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What's the Deal with Age-Related Muscle Loss?

Posted by Orange Insoles on

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It starts in your thirties and continues for the rest of your life. How much depends on your lifestyle and it really starts to speed up as you get older. No, it’s not gray hair (but yea, that happens too), it’s age-related muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia, and it’s just another perk of getting older. 
But don’t worry, there is a treatment and…it’s free! 
Let’s take a look at age-related muscle loss and how you can mitigate its effects. 

How Does Sarcopenia Work?

After age 30, you begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% muscle per decade. Most men will lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lifetimes. Muscle loss may start to speed up as early as 65 and continues to increase as late as 80. This muscle loss is what makes fractures during falls (like broken hips, collarbones, legs, arms, or wrists) so much more common in older people. 

Causes of Muscle Loss

So why do we lose muscle loss as we age? Let’s look at two of the main causes.

Inactivity

The number one reason is inactivity and that 3%-5% is primarily in people who are inactive. Even when we’re young, bed rest or immobility can cause muscles to atrophy…if you don’t use ‘em, you lose ‘em! A sedentary lifestyle can increase the likelihood of muscles loss as we age and our bodies experience things like:
  • A reduction in nerve cells that signals from the brain to muscles to start movement
  • Lower concentrations of certain hormones like growth hormones, testosterone
  • A decrease in the ability to turn protein into energy 
These factors paired with little to no activity will cause a decrease in muscle and make it even harder to return to regular activity. 

Diet

As we age, our tastes often change. We may not like certain foods anymore and as our gums and teeth change we may not be able to eat certain things. As shopping and cooking gets more difficult, getting enough of the right foods becomes a challenge. And not getting enough protein or calories can contribute to muscle loss. 

How to Fight Age-Related Muscle Loss

Since not aging isn’t an option (if anyone has a map to Neverland, let us know!) we have to take the fight against age into our own hands. We’re going to age, but there are some things you can do to slow down age-related muscle loss. 
Given the above causes, the solutions probably aren’t going to come as a surprise but the good news is they are free and relatively easy! 
Eat right. 
Exercise. 
Those are the two things you can do right now, and continue to do in the future, to put off major age-related muscle loss. 
Make sure to pack your diet full of these nutrients to keep your muscles strong and healthy:
  • Protein
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3 Fatty acids
  • Creatine
And don’t worry, the exercise doesn’t have to be intense. Starting a daily walking routine or making sure you are taking standing or stretching breaks when working at a desk can go a long way in keeping muscles active and strong. Trade that Netflix binge for a bike ride or that weekend of hanging on the couch for some hiking. Whatever you do, just keep that heart rate up! Starting small now can have big results later down the road! 
Growing older is inevitable, growing up is optional…and so is letting it slow you down! 

Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. If you experience persistent pain, consult your healthcare provider.


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