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Age-related muscle loss, also known as Sarcopenia is the gradual loss of muscle that occurs naturally as we age. It can be considered for muscle what osteoporosis is for bone, and can begin for some as early as in their thirties. Without intervention the condition gets increasingly worse, with physically inactive people losing as much as 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. It typically occurs faster around the age of 70, contributing to frailty and the increased likelihood of falls and fractures in elderly people.
Although sarcopenia is seen more widely in physically inactive people, it does also affect active people, suggesting to scientists that there are other contributing factors to its development. Researchers believe these include:
While this is a natural part of the human ageing process, the good news is that it can be overcome with exercise, specifically strength training. No matter how old or physically unfit an individual is, much of the strength and muscle mass that has been lost can be recovered. Strength training can improve an individual’s neuromuscular system and an elderly adult’s ability to convert protein to energy in as little as two weeks.
In addition to rebuilding the muscle mass through exercise, adequate nutrients particularly protein need to be consumed. An individual’s protein needs are based on their body weight, with the recommended daily intake being 0.8 grams pf protein per kilogram of bodyweight. However for older people whose bodies are not as effective in absorbing protein, recommended daily consumption should be 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. With the right combination of an exercise training plan, and improved nutrition, maintaining muscle mass shouldn’t be an issue for the average person.
So what are you waiting for? If you are currently sedentary or have a serious chronic illness, it is advisable to check with your doctor but once you get the all clear, start a strength training program. Here at Ballsbridge Physio, our Stronger for Longer class is a strength and conditioning class aimed to improve overall fitness to enhance quality of life. It is led by one of our chartered physiotherapists as proper technique is critical to getting the desired results without incurring an injury. If you wish to book an appointment or have any questions regarding the class, feel free to get in contact with us here.