Read on here about muscle mass loss in older adults as they age and what they can do to prevent muscle mass loss.
Muscle weakness, instability, unsteady gait, and falling are all aging characteristics – sarcopenia.
With progressive muscle mass loss and a decrease in muscle strength, sarcopenia can result in a dramatic drop in functional capacity and possibly the loss of the ability to complete daily-to-day living activities.
Signs And Symptoms Of Sarcopenia
As you might know, the primary symptoms and signs of sarcopenia are loss of stamina and strength but do you know there are more that include:
- Loss of muscle mass
- Difficulty performing normal everyday activities
- Unintentional weight loss
- Instability & falling
- Reduced walking speed
If you notice these symptoms and signs in you or your loved ones, don’t ignore them – it’s time to seek proper treatment.
Why Sarcopenia Prevention Is Essential As We Age?
Falls and fractures are the most common effects of sarcopenia for older adults, requiring timely diagnosis and treatment. Muscle loss and weakness, the leading characteristic of sarcopenia, is the primary cause of falls in older adults.
Moreover, sarcopenia and osteoporosis are closely related from the molecular point of view, which means an increased risk of falls & fractures.
And new research study shows that sarcopenia can also cause dysphagia and gastric cancer, as well as adverse outcomes from surgery, like a prolonged absence of bowel movements (postoperative ileus) and post-operative pneumonia.
Risk Factors Of Sarcopenia
Whereas you cannot do anything about some of the uncontrollable risk factors for age-related sarcopenia – such as age and gender – others can be treated to control (and possibly reverse) the development of the disease.
Aging is the leading risk factor for sarcopenia. Muscle mass starts declining in our 50s at an annual rate of about 1-2%. If left untreated, it speeds up, increasing to 15% per decade after age 70.
Research also shows men are more at risk for sarcopenia than women, with a 13-fold increased risk in males.
Though there’s not much we can do about age and sex, regular exercise can delay, slow, and even reverse the damage caused by sarcopenia.
Exercise To Prevent Muscle Mass Loss In Aging
Aerobic Activity And Sarcopenia
Aerobic activity means any activity that gets the heart and lungs pumping, such as brisk walking, jogging, running, swimming, cycling, using an elliptical trainer, etc. Aerobic exercise – even just moderate-intensity activity – has been shown to delay or prevent the onset of sarcopenia by obstructing the destructive cellular processes of the muscles.
According to Fitness Buufhq, Personal Fitness Trainer and founder of Just Fitness Hub, brisk walking at a moderate to vigorous pace is one of the best ways to prevent muscle mass loss in the elderly, especially those who are unable to do other vigorous aerobic activities.
Resistance Training For Sarcopenia
Many studies have concluded that irrespective of age, progressive resistance training is an effective way to beat sarcopenia and increase muscle mass.
However, a recent research study shows that eccentric resistance exercises (when the muscles tissues are actively recruited and lengthening at the same time) need less demand from the heart and lungs of older adults and thus might be more appropriate than progressive resistance training. However, both are beneficial. Eccentric exercises lead to stronger muscle tissue in older adults and invigorate connective tissue cells to produce more collagen, strengthening the joints and minimizing injuries.
Read here: How To Prevent Muscle Loss in Old Age?
Neuromotor Exercise For Sarcopenia
Sarcopenia decreases muscle mass and strength in the lower extremities, which is primarily responsible for falls. However, it also reduces “neuromotor fitness,” balance, posture, the quality of gait, and movement. Because of this, the posture of older adults declines over time, and they walk more slowly and become increasingly unsteady on their feet. This makes them more at risk of falls and fractures.
Older adults benefit greatly from neuromotor exercises like tai chi and yoga because these exercises improve agility, proprioception, balance, coordination, and gait (i.e., the ability to sense one’s position in space). The best is to practice a combination of neuromotor exercise, resistance exercise, and, at times, also aerobic activities.
Just remember that staying physically active throughout your life is key to preventing muscle loss because of aging. A little movement is better than none. And even 5 to 10 minutes of activity for sedentary people is beneficial.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, the USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”