Best Ways to Avoid Muscle Loss As You Age
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nicole Avena
Are you ready to become a stronger, healthier you?
As we age, one common struggle is the loss of muscle mass and strength. So, how can you stay strong and vibrant well into your golden years?
Let’s look at some simple and effective techniques that can help you avoid age-related muscle loss.
What’s Muscle Loss?
Muscle loss is a common condition that affects older adults. It’s characterized by the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass, strength, and function due to age-related changes in the body. This process can start in the 30s and 40s but typically is more noticeable after the age of 65.
It’s important to know the role that muscle mass plays in our overall health. Our muscles not only support our body structure and movement but also contribute significantly to our metabolism.
As we age, several factors can contribute to the decline in muscle mass. These include hormonal changes such as decreased levels of growth hormones, reduced physical activity levels due to a sedentary lifestyle, or serious bone, joint, and muscle conditions.
A major drawback to having poor muscle quality is a decrease in functional performance. This may result in weakness, fatigue, poor balance and posture, difficulty performing daily tasks independently (e.g., getting up from a chair), impaired mobility leading to falls or injuries, and ultimately a reduction in the quality of life.
What Decreases Muscle Mass?
Muscle loss can have a significant impact on an individual’s overall health and well-being. Here are some of the leading factors that can contribute to the loss of muscle mass.
As we age, our body goes through various changes, including a decrease in muscle mass and strength. This decline typically begins around the age of 30. From that point on, most people lose between 3-8% of their muscle mass per year.
One of the main contributors to the loss of muscle mass is leading a sedentary lifestyle. Consistent inactivity can lead to decreased physical function, including muscle loss. When muscles aren’t used regularly, they can become weak and begin to atrophy.
Nutrition plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy muscles and preventing muscle loss. As we grow older, our bodies become less efficient at absorbing nutrients from food sources.
Additionally, older adults tend to have reduced appetites and may not consume enough calories or protein each day. This lowered caloric intake can lead to malnutrition and contribute to muscle loss.
Serious Illnesses and Medications
Serious illnesses involving insufficient blood flow and unhealthy blood sugar levels can play a role in the development of muscle loss. These conditions may cause inflammation, metabolic changes, and hormonal imbalances that can lead to muscle loss.
Also, some medications commonly used by older adults to manage these conditions may have side effects that contribute to muscle loss.
While aging is the primary cause of muscle loss, genetics also may play a role in an individual’s risk for developing it. Certain individuals may be predisposed to losing muscle mass at a faster rate than others due to their genetic makeup.
Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection in the body. However, excessive inflammation can accelerate the loss of muscle mass and function.
The good news is that it’s never too late to take steps towards preventing or slowing down the effects of muscle loss, and there are many natural ways to accomplish this.
Here are some of the most effective, natural ways to prevent the loss of muscle mass…
7 Natural Ways to Prevent Muscle Loss at Any Age
- Resistance Training
One of the key factors in maintaining muscle mass and strength is regular physical activity, particularly resistance training. This involves using weights or your own body weight to challenge and strengthen your muscles. By incorporating resistance training into your routine at least 2-3 times a week, you can prevent the degradation of muscle tissue that can occur with age.
- Adequate Protein Intake
Protein plays a crucial role in building and maintaining muscle mass, which makes it an essential nutrient for preventing muscle loss. As the body ages, it becomes less efficient at utilizing protein from food sources. It’s recommended to aim for 0.8-1g of protein per kilogram of body weight each day from sources such as lean meats, fish, eggs, legumes, and nuts.
- Vitamin D & Calcium
These two nutrients are vital for bone health but also play a significant role in preserving muscle mass as we age. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium, which is necessary for building and maintaining strong bones. Vitamin D (particularly D3) can be obtained from foods, supplements, and adequate sunlight exposure.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These healthy fats – found in supplements and foods like salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds – may help prevent muscle loss by reducing inflammation and promoting muscle protein synthesis.
As we age, our bodies are more susceptible to oxidative stress, which can damage cells and contribute to muscle loss. Incorporating antioxidant-rich foods into your diet – such as berries, dark leafy greens, and nuts – can help combat oxidative stress and prevent muscle loss.
Staying well-hydrated is crucial for maintaining muscle mass because water helps transport nutrients and oxygen to muscles for growth and repair. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially when working out, to support muscle health.
Getting enough quality sleep is essential for overall health, but also can play a role in preventing age-related muscle loss. During sleep, our bodies produce hormones that aid in muscle growth and repair. It’s recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. This gives your body the time it needs to properly recuperate and rejuvenate.
Every Step Counts
Experiencing a decline in muscle mass, strength, and function is a common, age-related condition. It can have detrimental effects on overall health and quality of life if not addressed properly.
Incorporating resistance training, a nutritious diet, and healthy habits into your routine can help preserve your muscles and prevent muscle loss as you age. But be sure to consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise or nutrition regimen.
Though aging is inevitable, muscle loss doesn’t have to be a part of growing old. By understanding this condition and taking proactive steps to prevent it, you can ward off muscle loss naturally and age gracefully.
Remember, it’s never too late to start taking care of your muscles and every little step counts!
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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This content is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical or healthcare advice from a physician, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new health regimen.
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