If you are in the second half of life and never heard of sarcopenia then keep reading to save yourself some future strife. Sarcopenia is the medical term for muscle loss and is common condition closely associated with aging and a sedentary lifestyle. Muscle loss can be reversed with a consistent exercise routine, balanced diet and reducing stress which often results in more productive longer life.
As humans age, the body’s growth signals become imbalanced between growth and teardown which cues muscle loss. In the first half of life from infancy to young adulthood our muscles are actively growing to accommodate weight gain, growth spurts, and increasing strength. Once humans hit the second half of life, they lose approximately 3% of their muscle strength each year. Losing muscle strength makes it harder to do regular activities like lifting objects or even walking.
People of all ages can actually experience muscle loss if they live an inactive lifestyle or are rendered immobile due to illness or injury. People that don’t eat enough calories or protein can also suffer with sarcopenia since our muscles need balanced nutrients to stay strong. Inflammation and severe stress can also accelerate muscle loss over time leading to prolonged issues with sarcopenia.
It’s always best to check in with a healthcare provider to be certain, but there are some telltale signs to spot sarcopenia on your own. Cause for concern can include feeling physically weaker or difficultly lifting common objects like jars or canned goods. If you experience trouble gripping or turning shower knobs or steering wheels that might also be indication of a muscle loss issue. Feeling easily exhausted or winded after walking could also be signs of sarcopenia.
While this all might seem scary, but don’t worry, sarcopenia does not have to be set in stone. Eating a balance nutrient rich diet with plenty of plant-based or animal protein and exercise both help to reverse muscle loss and improve mobility. Calorie counting is not required. However, it is important to eat enough to support and sustain stamina and strength as well as maintain muscle mass.
Combining cardio, strength training and balance exercises are the best bets to build strength and prevent muscles from weakening due to inactivity. Start with one thirty-minute session per week and add on from there as you build stamina, endurance and strength. If aerobic exercises like hiking, jogging or cycling are too strenuous for you start, begin with walking in your neighborhood or a local park. Try group fitness classes that incorporate resistance bands and balance drills then work your way up to light weight lifting. Floor mat exercises like yoga and barre workouts are safe ways to build balance for beginners. Start slow and increase to two or more sessions per week to reap the most benefits and build muscles back better and stronger than ever before. Remember rest and recovery are also needed to rejuvenate cellular growth and maintain all your hard work.
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