- Aging & Longevity
Sarcopenia: Why Preventing Age Related Muscle Loss Will Help You Stay Young
Sarcopenia: Age Related Muscle Loss
If you're over forty years old, you're probably affected by Sarcopenia. This condition begins at age twenty-five with a .5-1% loss of muscle mass each year, leading to the classic signs of aging. Frailty, lack of coordination, trembling, and weakness are clearly associated with aging and many people believe that these symptoms are inevitable. However, research now reveals that these conditions are directly related to Sarcopenia or loss of muscle mass associated with aging. In fact, recent research has shown that Sarcopenia can be prevented leading to many benefits. For example, older folks with more muscle mass have a higher metabolism, can be more active, have more stamina, look and feel younger, and have a lower risk for many diseases associated with aging.
Causes of Sarcopenia
The term Sarcopenia is relatively new, having been coined in 1988 by Dr. Irwin Rosenberg to describe the gradual loss of muscle mass due to aging. By giving it a name, he was successful in encouraging research on causes and treatments. Even so, research into Sarcopenia is still in it's infancy so the exact causes have yet to be pin-pointed. Some have hypothesized that Sarcopenia is caused by a variety of factors, all working together, including lower levels of hormones, poor nutritional status, changes within the cells due to free radical damage, and lack of exercise.
As we age, levels of testosterone and growth hormone decline. This can make it more difficult to maintain and build muscle mass. Additionally, the elderly often don't eat enough protein for muscle maintenance and most don't exercise either. All of these factors have been implicated in Sarcopenia.
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How to Prevent and Reverse Sarcopenia
Research has shown that Sarcopenia can be prevented and even reversed by resistance training using weights, bands, or bodyweight exercises. Getting started with weight training while middle aged or younger can go a long way towards preventing loss of muscle mass in later years. However, even if you've never lifted weights before and you're over 60 years old, you can still get stronger and reap the benefits of increased muscle mass. Experts are now recommending weight training over cardiovascular exercise like walking. It makes sense, if you're too weak to walk very far, weight training will give you the strength and stamina to walk further or perhaps even to run. They also recommend an increase in dietary protein, fruit and vegetables to further support the maintenance and increase in muscle mass.
Increased Muscle Mass: The Fountain of Youth
By reversing or preventing Sarcopenia through increased muscle mass, one can literally achieve the fountain of youth! Those who stay strong as they age have a much higher chance of remaining active, healthy and younger looking throughout their lives. Read on for motivation and start reaping the benefits of resistance training.
- Higher metabolism: If you want to fend off the seemingly inevitable weight gain associated with age, lift weights and build muscle. The more muscle a person carries, the higher their metabolism. This is because muscle requires more calories just to be maintained. A higher metabolism will result in a better appearance and a lower risk of diseases related to obesity such as diabetes.
- More independence, activity and stamina: Older adults who have more muscle strength are able to carry out activites with more independence. Even simple activities like carrying groceries into the house can seem difficult with Sarcopenia. Reversing this disease can do wonders! One might even begin to try more strenuous activities that previously would not have been considered.
- Decrease in risk of chronic diseases: According to the CDC, strength training can prevent as well as reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic diseases including diabetes, arthritis, osteporosis, heart disease, obesity, and back pain. This is because resistance training is known to increase glycemic control, bone density, metabolism, and flexibility.
- Improved sleep and mood: Studies have shown that regular exercise results in improved sleep and less risk of depression.
- Look and feel younger: A lower body weight, better sleep, higher levels of activity and stamina, and a decrease in the symptoms of chronic disease will inevitably lead to looking and feeling younger.
Sarcopenia isn't Inevitable
The affects of Sarcopenia aren't inevitable. In fact, with a regular program of resistance training, age related muscle loss can be both prevented and reversed, leading to lasting youth and vitality throughout your life time.