To many of us, it might seem like losing muscle is just a normal part of aging. We watched it happen to our parents and grandparents. But, it is possible to regain that muscle and stay healthy as you age!
To an extent, aging is indeed linked to muscle loss, 10 percent of people over 50 experience sarcopenia (muscle loss). On average, older people lose three percent of the muscle’s strength yearly. The condition shortens life expectancy. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s unavoidable. Hormones that instruct your body to build muscle stop being as effective as you age, meaning your body breaks down muscled more rapidly than it replaces it.
Several factors combine to lead to muscle loss: stress, poor diet, being sedentary, and chronic inflammation. These four things can cause the body a lot of distress and trigger the muscle loss. It can become noticeable long before it’s visible if you find yourself unable to lift things or open jars that wouldn’t usually cause you a problem. Walking slower or tiring quickly can be indicators before you start to lose weight.
The good news is, exercise and diet can help, walking, resistance train and aerobic exercise can help you grow and maintain muscle as well as make you fit. In a study with 439 women over 50, they saw that jogging, hiking or biking five times a week helped significantly. Not only did the women gain muscle, but they also became fitter, being more comfortable and capable of working out for longer.
By increasing your intake of protein, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, you can improve your body’s ability to grow muscles. Protein is the building block of muscles. The USDA found in a survey that one-third of American adults don’t eat enough protein. Researchers followed 2,900 people for 23 years and saw that the folks who had the highest amount of protein in their diet lowered their risk for losing significant amounts of muscle by 30 percent.
We aren’t advocating bodybuilding! But, adding extra movement into your day and having an extra glass of milk, a handful of nuts or an egg might help you. Speak to your doctor about your risk of sarcopenia. The world is a better place when you’re healthy and can enjoy life, so take steps today to make sure you have a bright tomorrow!