From the time you are born until around the age of 30, your muscles develop and become stronger. However, as you age, you start losing muscle mass and strength. According to WebMD, this kind of muscle degeneration is attributed to aging which may speed up around age 75. It can also accelerate as early as 65 or as late as 80. When you have less muscle, it will make you weak and decrease your mobility. These physical disadvantages may increase the likelihood of falls and fractures.
Sarcopenia is a syndrome that causes progressive loss of muscle mass and strength. It may prevent an individual from performing simple day-to-day activities such as getting up from bed or going up the stairs.
Signs and symptoms of sarcopenia include decrease in muscle size, weakness over time, loss of stamina, poor balance, and difficulty lifting familiar objects. Another possible sign is unintentional weight loss. However, these symptoms may also be associated with other medical conditions. If you experience these symptoms, it’s best to consult a health professional.
Doctors often diagnose sarcopenia based on an individual’s symptoms. A hand-grip-strength test may be used to help diagnose sarcopenia. In some cases, the doctor may request a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and a walking speed test.
Although sarcopenia is often seen in inactive people, this syndrome can also affect physically active people.
Although losing muscle mass and strength is part of growing old, does it mean you are helpless in doing something about it? Yes, you can have a better quality of life as you grow older. Here are some ways to help you preserve muscle mass and strength.
Did you know that lack of physical activity can make you lose as much as 3-5% of your muscle mass every 10 years after the age of 30? That’s why movement can be your most powerful weapon against sarcopenia.
Doctors may recommend resistance or strength training using weights or resistance bands to increase muscle strength and endurance. Calisthenics like sit-ups, squats, and push-ups are also effective exercises to fight sarcopenia. Even simple exercises like walking can slow down muscle loss.
An experienced physical therapist or trainer can create an exercise plan for you to get the most benefit with the least risk of injury.
Proper nutrition is vital in treating sarcopenia and even delaying the condition. Eating healthy proteins such as fish, other seafood, lean meat, eggs, nuts, lentils, quinoa, and dairy products can contribute to building up and sustaining normal muscle mass levels.
Certain dietary supplements can improve a patient’s condition or prevent sarcopenia. For example, intake of creatine supplements may increase lean muscle mass and strength in adults. Vitamin D supplements may help older adults maintain mass strength and reduce the risk of falls. Omega-3 fatty acids supplements can promote muscle growth in response to exercise. It is advisable to consult a doctor before taking supplements.
If you have an elderly loved one at home, discourage him/her from always lying down. Studies show that lying down for a week can lead to at least 5% of muscle mass loss. If the person is able-bodied, encourage him or her to get out of bed and walk around. You can also encourage other forms of movement like senior-friendly and easy chair exercises.
Proper nutrition and at least 15 minutes worth of exercise a day can help you prevent and combat the signs of age-related muscle loss.
Embrace good health because in times like these, health is wealth. Safeguard your family’s health by getting a Family Health Plan.