As we age, our bodies change in many ways. We may not be as strong as we once were and we may lose some muscle mass. But is this a normal part of aging?
Why am I losing muscle mass and weight?
Scientists have found that we naturally lose muscle mass as we age. They call this “sarcopenia”. Sarcopenia happens because our muscles get weaker and smaller. This process starts around the age of 40 and continues as we age.
However, some of us may lose it faster than others, which can lead to a serious condition that has a significant impact on a person's quality of life.
Are you losing muscle mass? Here are 5 ways to tell
A severe case of muscle mass loss can be a serious condition that significantly impairs one's ability to perform simple daily tasks such as walking up stairs or getting out of a chair. And this growing disability may result in a loss of independence and the need for long-term care.
The following are four common signs of muscle loss:
Prone to falling
Slow walking speed
Difficulty Performing Normal Daily Activities
You can also find out more about your risk of muscle loss by taking the SARC-F test. This is a brief questionnaire that you can complete on your own to assist you in discussing your muscle loss condition with your healthcare provider.
Are you at risk for sudden muscle loss?
Many factors can cause muscle atrophy, including:
Poor nutrition can lead to a variety of health problems, including muscle atrophy.
The International Osteoporosis Foundation specifically warns that diets low in lean protein, fruits, and vegetables can result in muscle mass loss.
Don’t get enough exercise
Some say, "Use it or lose it." Make use of your muscles to keep them strong. Consistent exercise can help to build muscle mass.
Certain medical conditions that cause pain and inflammation, such as arthritis or myositis, can severely limit a person's mobility, potentially leading to muscle disuse and atrophy.
As we age, our bodies produce fewer proteins and hormones that promote muscle growth. This decrease in available protein causes muscle cells to shrink. For example, Testosterone plays a role in the development of muscle mass, and reduced levels of the hormone can result in a significant loss of muscle mass.
More than just looking good: The benefits of having healthy muscle mass
Muscle mass affects many aspects of our overall health, not just our physical appearance, including:
Maintaining normal bodily function. Loss of muscle not only affects our normal bodily functions such as walking, standing, and lifting objects, but it also makes people more susceptible to chronic disease.
Preventing osteoporosis and bone decay. Another common health issue that people face as they age is bone weakening. Mass strengthening exercises, such as, can help increase bone density and strength while also lowering the risk of falling.
Combating cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. There is evidence that strength training can improve glucose tolerance as well as insulin sensitivity. Both are crucial in the body's regulation of blood sugar levels.
Controlling body fat levels. The higher your muscle-to-fat ratio, the higher your metabolic rate, which helps you burn more calories and keep them from becoming fat.
Summary: Don't Let Muscle Loss Keep You from Feeling Your Best
Muscle loss is a natural part of the ageing process. Neglecting your muscle mass can increase your risk of serious health problems ranging from obesity to osteoporosis. Maintaining a sufficient level of muscle, on the other hand, will improve many aspects of your overall wellness, from your mental health to basic physical functions such as walking and lifting.
There are numerous ways to prevent or slow the progression of muscle loss, such as staying active, eating a healthy diet, and performing strength-training exercises. You may also consider taking supplements to increase your energy and vitality during your daily exercise routine in order to maintain muscle mass.