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Keeping your muscle mass up as you age (Sarcopenia)

Most adults achieve their peak muscle mass sometime during their late 30s to early 40s. After that point, a gradual loss of muscle mass begins and can continue a steady rate into old age. This age-related loss of muscle mass, strength and function is known as sarcopenia.

How quickly does it happen? People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3 percent to 5 percent of their muscle mass per decade after age 30.

Although there’s no specific level of lean body mass or muscle mass at which one can say sarcopenia is present, any loss of muscle mass is of concern since there’s a strong relationship between muscle mass and strength

Research shows that a program of progressive resistance training exercises much like you do at Targeted Fitness can build muscle therefore improving sarcopenia in as little as two weeks

While everyone loses some muscle mass with age, it’s possible to slow or even reverse that loss with regular exercise. For the elderly, maintaining muscle mass and function is vital to having functional independence. Muscle deterioration can be prevented, decreased and reversed with the following methods:

  1. Exercise: exercise has been shown to increase strength, aerobic capacity and muscle protein synthesis, as well as to increase muscle mitochondrial enzyme activity in both young and older people. Resistance exercise, especially, has been shown to decrease frailty and improve muscle strength in very elderly adults. Exercise is recommended on most days of the week, but a minimum of three times per week is recommended to slow muscle loss and prevent sarcopenia.
  2. Increase Overall Dietary Protein: Protein is the most valuable food for repairing and building muscle fibres. Studies show that 12 percent of men and 24 percent of women over age 70 eat significantly less than the recommended 0.8 gram of protein per kilogram of their body weight each day. Currently, the recommended dietary allowance for protein is generally 50 grams of protein per day or 0.8 gram per kilogram (g/kg) of body weight a day for men and women 19 years of age and older. For healthy adults, between one and 1.2 g/kg is a good target for daily protein intake. To figure out how much protein you need, take your body weight in kilograms. Next, multiply that number by 1.2 to reach the recommended grams of protein per day. For example, a person who weighs 67.5 kilograms should aim for about 81 grams of protein per day. Most meat, poultry and fish have about 7 grams of protein in an ounce. One cup of milk or one egg has about 8 grams of protein. Eating enough protein is necessary to build and maintain healthy muscle mass, while also supporting tendons, ligaments and other body tissue.
  3. Hormone Balance: Hormonal factors can significantly affect muscle mass. If you’re 40 years of age or older, you should have annual blood work done to track your hormone levels. For women, hormonal balance can have a direct effect on sarcopenia. Menopause is linked to reduced concentrations of a hormone called estradoill in middle-aged and older women. There appears to be impaired muscle performance during the postmenopausal period when ovarian hormone production has decreased. It’s believed that hormonal changes and balance may play a role in sarcopenia in older women.
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