Why Your Body Changes When You Age-And How to Slow It Down

It’s easy to get trapped in the mind frame that your health diminishes naturally as you age. You may find yourself getting a little slower, a little softer, and slightly more prone to pain and sickness.

The body goes through changes as you age. Once you hit 45, you start losing muscle mass at a rate of roughly one percent per year, and an 80-year-old can often have 30% less muscle mass than a 30-year-old. This can be attributed to a variety of reasons, including a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and general lack of exercise. However, it is also a physiological change occurring naturally as your hormones change. It is also attributed to inflammation, resistance to insulin, and the instance of fat getting into muscle.

The condition leading to muscle loss is called sarcopenia and almost everyone is susceptible to it. Current numbers show sarcopenia affects about 10% of people over 60, and this number rises with age. However, its effects can be limited by adopting a few lifestyle practices.

Research has shown the best way to fight against muscle degradation is resistance training, meaning exercise where tension is put on the muscle during contraction. An arm curl with an elastic or dumbbell, chest press with an elastic or dumbbell, bodyweight squat, or any number of exercises that promote muscle growth and retention are examples of resistance training.

As the population ages and baby boomers enter their golden years, some doctors are looking at sarcopenia with the same seriousness they do osteoporosis. The conditions are very similar and closely related, with osteoporosis affecting the bones and sarcopenia affecting muscle tissue. To this point, however, doctors are still having a hard time treating the condition, because there are no specific medications to prescribe.

Because it’s difficult to treat medically, the best approach is to take preventative measures. Waiting for a doctor’s diagnosis may be too late. As I mentioned above, the best way to fight it is with resistance exercise. A Tufts University study showed a home-based exercise program improved the functional performance and balance of 70 participants age 70 and older.

Functional performance and balance are extremely important. First off, they prevent falls. When your legs are strong enough to keep you up and absorb the minor blows that can throw you off balance, you greatly reduce your chances of a broken hip or other injury. Muscle function is important because it allows you to carry out daily tasks relatively pain-free with little effort. Along with muscle mass, function is important, too.

Sarcopenia is the main contributor to weight loss as a person ages, and is the reason why so many older people have poor posture and appear shrunken. This causes all kinds of difficulty in their daily lives, but can be avoided by getting enough protein in your diet to build and maintain muscle and by getting exercise. Consuming about 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily will help to maintain muscle mass. Without the proper nutrition, exercise won’t do much good. Furthermore, try to get 45 to 60 minutes of exercise per day in addition to any physical activity.

Source for Story:

Doctors Health Press [e-bulletin@doctorshealthpress.com]