Age-related muscle loss, known as Sarcopenia, is very common in older adults. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, nearly half of people aged 80 years and older experience muscle loss. Lean muscle mass makes up nearly 50% of total bodyweight in a healthy young adult, however, that can be expected to decrease to 25% between the ages of 75 and 80 years.
Older adults who experience Sarcopenia are at a larger risk for disability, hospitalization, weakness, and falls. In addition, Sarcopenia patients are also at risk of losing their independence as their ability to perform basic daily tasks decreases. However, there are simple and proven ways to decrease your chances of age-related muscle loss.
Eat More Protein
It’s not uncommon for seniors to experience a loss of appetite as they age. This can be attributed to a number of reasons such as a side effect from medications or lack of movement and exercise. However, diet plays a crucial role in aging, especially when it comes to muscle loss. Older adults should pay attention to their diet and make sure they are consuming enough protein which helps build and maintain muscles.
Exercise with Weights
Resistance training is the most effective exercise for building up muscle mass. While weight training can be done without the risk of injury, it’s important for older adults to receive proper training if they are unfamiliar with this type of exercise. Weight training can be done with handheld dumbbells, weight machines, elastic bands, and body weight. Older adults should aim for two days of resistance training a week.
Many older adults find it difficult to be active each day, which can cause muscles to atrophy more quickly. Along with weight resistance training, taking walks each day is equally important. Walking will help keep the muscles active while also strengthening your bones.
Consume Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency can cause weakness, lack of strength and grip in the hands, and is often associated with Sarcopenia. Before consuming Vitamin D supplements, it’s important to get your levels checked by your healthcare provider. In addition to Vitamin D, consuming omega-3 fatty acids from salmon, tuna, or sardines, can also help reduce inflammation that ultimately affects muscle mass and strength.
While muscle loss is a normal part of aging, it doesn’t have to affect your daily life. Taking care of yourself through exercise and a well-balanced diet will help defend yourself from age-related muscle loss.