IS SARCOPENIA INEVITABLE?
Sarcopenia. Have you even heard of it? Is it inevitable? Well, yes unfortunately, but us oldies can certainly take measures to slow that mofo down!!!! (Skip to the bottom to find out….)
As we get older, we face the inevitable loss of reduction in our physical health. One age-related illness is sarcopenia which is characterised by a loss of muscle.
Sarcopenia has a direct effect on muscle strength, body composition, risk of injury as well as our overall health.
WHY IS AN AWARENESS OF MUSCLE LOSS SO IMPORTANT?
As Sarcopenia progresses, this can lead to moving less and a more sedentary lifestyle, with increased body fat (Sarcopenic Obesity), which then becomes a vicious cycle, accelerating the decline.
We can lose muscle at a more rapid rate if we have a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, or chronic disease.
HOW DOES SARCOPENIA IMPACT OUR HEALTH?
Sarcopenia is associated with:
- Heart Health
- Frailty & Weakness
- Quality of Life
From the age of 50 (I’m there already… and some!) our muscle mass can decrease by up to 1-2% per year, with muscle strength decreasing at an even quicker rate 3-4% per year.
We will all experience Sarcopenia and this can even start as early as our 20’s for females and 30’s for males. Although ageing is inevitable, the good news is that we can offset the rate of decline focusing on exercise and diet.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO SLOW IT DOWN?
Things that can reduce the acceleration of sarcopenia include exercise, protein intake and weight bearing exercise. Potentially, some supplementation can also help.
Exercise is one of the key components of keeping our muscles healthy.
We can slow the rate of muscle loss by increasing our activity levels. This could be simply walking, but a more effective approach would be weight bearing exercise such as body weight exercises, using a resistance band or weightlifting.
In addition to stimulating the muscles with exercise, an adequate amount of lean protein will help to retain and build the muscles. Older people have some anabolic resistance too, which is where the muscles don’t respond as well (as they did when we were younger) to an average amount of protein/amino acids. Older people may therefore require more protein to stimulate the muscles. eg., a younger person might only require 25g per meal, but an older person may need around 40g for the same stimulus. This can be a problem as we age as our appetites often diminish too… this is where whey protein can come in handy!
Vitamin D is important for our immunity and bone health, as it aids calcium absorption. Many studies have shown that poor Vitamin D status has been shown to reduced muscle mass and supplementation has been shown to increase strength in an older population, independent of exercise.
Omega 3 Fish Oil has been associated with health benefits relating to heart health, inflammation, cognitive & mental health.
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in the muscles which helps them produce energy. As a supplement, this has been widely researched and has been shown to help recovery, cognitive function and improve muscular performance during weight bearing exercise.
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