Aging can bring about a lot of changes in terms of health and physical attributes of individuals. While aging can be attributed to the build-up of wisdom and experience, the reality is that our bodies do not have the same levels of vigor and energy as it used to. Various health conditions and concerns should be carefully addressed as we age and one of these issues is muscle loss or sarcopenia brought about by aging. In this article, we will look at the different ways we can fight sarcopenia or muscle loss due to aging.
What is Sarcopenia?
Sarcopenia is a form of muscle loss that affects an estimated ten percent (10%) of adults who reach the age of 50 years old and above. In its literal translation, sarcopenia means “lack of flesh” and is considered a degenerative condition meaning it is a condition that is brought about by old age particularly for people over the age of 50. This is because adults, in general, lose around three percent (3%) of their muscle strength per year after going beyond middle age. This can greatly limit the ability to do routine tasks and adversely affects the quality of life of most adults.
Another major adverse effect of sarcopenia, however, is that it can greatly shorten the life expectancy of those with the said illness. This is mainly because sarcopenia is brought about by the process known as “catabolism” or the teardown processes of cells. In healthy adults, growth hormones work hand-in-hand with enzymes that destroy proteins resulting in the regular cycle of muscle injury, replacement, and growth. Individuals with sarcopenia, especially those who are beyond 50 years old, will have weakened or resistant reaction towards the body’s signal for muscle growth making the body more prone to muscle loss and catabolism.
What Factors Cause Sarcopenia?
As stated earlier, sarcopenia or muscle loss is generally brought about by old age. However, there are some factors that can encourage or even propagate an individual’s chances of developing sarcopenia or muscle loss. Below are some of the factors that can cause sarcopenia:
Lack of physical activity and a lifestyle that is considered sedentary
The saying goes that if “you don’t use it, you lose it” and this rings true for our muscles. Individuals who rarely use their muscles for physical activities or those adults who lead sedentary lifestyles might be at higher risk of developing sarcopenia.
A diet that is not balanced
Diets that are insufficient or low in calories and proteins may lead to sarcopenia or muscle loss. While people wanting to lose weight may opt for low-calorie diets, those who have a regular physique and are aged over 50 years old should opt for a well-balanced diet instead. This is because they need to maintain a healthy balance fo consumed nutrients and proteins to ensure that muscle loss is avoided.
Inflammation that is not immediately addressed
Injuries or other health conditions that cause inflammation is a normal bodily response which prompts the body to send signals to the muscles promoting the rebuilding of the body’s cells and muscles. Having the said inflammation for extended periods of time may result in abnormal signals. This then can promote prolonged muscle teardown and healing, ultimately leading to loss of muscle mass.
Increased levels of stress
Health conditions that tend to cause great stress on the body of individuals can also result in higher risks of developing sarcopenia. These health conditions include chronic heart disease and chronic kidney failure. Cancer and the treatment options for cancer can also cause great stress and strain on an individual’s body which can also increase the level of stress on an individual’s body.
Stop and Prevent Sarcopenia Due to Aging
Sarcopenia can indeed be a dangerous condition with dire health consequences that can greatly affect the quality of life of individuals afflicted with it. The good news is there are a number of things that people can do to improve prevent and stop the development of sarcopenia and muscle loss due to aging.
Reverse and Stop Sarcopenia with the following types of exercises:
The use of resistance bands, moving the body against gravity and weightlifting are forms of resistance training and can help individuals reverse sarcopenia or muscle loss This is because the positive stress caused by the resistance of strength training can lead to the proliferation of growth hormones and exponential growth in the muscle fibers. This combination can help alleviate the symptoms of muscle loss in individuals.
Aerobic exercises and endurance training can help the body sustain high levels of heart rate and can help the body go against the negative effects of sarcopenia. Fitness training has been shown to be effective in combatting sarcopenia if done in combination with resistance and flexibility training. Research suggests that jogging, hiking and cycling for at least fifteen (15) minutes can help contribute an increase of muscle mass and therefore possibly help individuals fight against the adverse effects of sarcopenia.
One of the most practical ways to exercise and fight against sarcopenia, walking can help individuals reverse sarcopenia and increase muscle mass particularly for those people with lowered muscle mass. Progression of a total distance by up to ten percent (10%) per month can make sure that people wanting to gain muscle mass are on the right track.
Nutrients to Help Prevent and Fight Sarcopenia
A number of key nutrients have been shown to fight against sarcopenia. These include protein, vitamin D, creatine and omega 3 Fatty acids. These nutrients when taken and complemented by the abovementioned exercises, can greatly improve the chances of an individual to fight off and prevent muscle loss brought about sarcopenia during old age. The synergistic effect of these two variables can greatly improve an individual’s overall health, wellness, and quality of life.