As a person ages, he/she starts losing weight, with a good portion coming from the loss of muscles. The bones also start degrading, in terms of quality and strength. Loss of skeletal mass with aging should be taken seriously as it could lead trigger fatigue, weakness, and a diminished capacity to exercise.
There are three different types of muscle mass loss that happens in the geriatric group – sarcopenia, cachexia, and starvation. Sarcopenia is something that happens normally in all the old people and is associated with a decrease in muscular fiber atrophy and reduced motor activities. And, this is a condition whose impact could be reduced by taking care of certain things.
But before moving on to know how you can prevent the loss of skeletal muscle mass, here is a short overview of how important the muscle mass is.
Importance of skeletal muscle mass
As the muscles age, it starts losing out its size, strength, as well as its aerobic abilities. This, eventually, leads to a decline in the overall metabolic functioning. Your muscles are essential not just to keep you moving around. They shield you from the impacts of obesity, hormonal fluctuations, metabolic decline, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.
You need your muscles to ensure that your cognition is functioning upright. That is why age-induced muscle degradation leads to assorted health crisis, including reduced cognitive functioning.
To put it short, as your muscles start losing their capacity and strength, your health also starts sliding down the slope, accelerating the aging process and increasing the risks of various health disorders.
However, making some subtle, yet strategic alterations to the lifestyle could in fact slow down or even prevent the muscle mass loss. Read on to know more…
Preventing & Reducing Age-Induced Skeletal Muscle Mass
- Never stop your movements!
You ought to take more rest as you age, but never refrain from moving along. Studies suggest that people who are sedentary are more prone to muscle mass loss than those who are physically active. You can always do your chores along with embracing a simple exercise regimen that could cut down the pace of muscle loss.
[ Read: How Evening Walk Benefits To Our Body ]
- Watch your protein intake!
It is essential to eat quality protein. Amino acids are essential to keep your muscles strong and active. And, that is why experts advise the consumption of protein as you age. However, it is also essential to choose the protein you consume.
Opt for high quality protein, especially the ones that contain the amino acid leucine, to preserve your muscles. Some of the best sources of quality protein include dairy products like yogurt and milk, edamme, tofu, fish, and lean meat.
- Get your Omega-3s right
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are essential for warding off inflammation that trigger muscle break down. According to a study that appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Omega-3 fatty acids help the muscles to utilize protein in a very effective way.
Try to include Omega-3 rich eggs, salmons, and walnuts in your diet to prevent muscle atrophy. You can also include flaxseeds in your yogurt and other foods to boost up your essential fatty acids. Alternatively, you could choose fish oil supplements available in the market to meet your daily Omega-3 requirements.
- Know your vitamin D levels
Visit a doctor and get a simple blood test done to check your vitamin D levels. Studies suggest that a drastic dip in the levels of this essential vitamin could lead to an increasing muscle mass loss. Your doctor will prescribe your essential supplements so that you could improve protein synthesis, thereby preserving your muscle mass.
- Do yoga
Yoga is one of the best exercises any senior citizens could try. Opt for the gentle versions such as Hatha yoga that helps you stretch and improve the circulation levels. When you breathe, you will be filling yourself with an additional dose of oxygen. This, in turn, offers your body and muscles a chance to receive a better dose of nutrients and blood. Yoga poses also help in improving the quality of the muscles, thereby preventing the muscle mass erosion. Try to include some gentle stretches like Tadasana (Mountain Pose) to see noticeable changes in a couple of weeks.
- Lift some weights
According to a various studies, older people who use resistance bands, kettlebells, or lifted weights twice or thrice a week for 3 to 6 months regularly had lesser muscle mass erosion when compared to those who did to indulge in weight training.
- Get your cardio workout regularly
Yoga helps in stretching. Weight training tones your muscles. It is now time to get some cardio. A 30 minute brisk walk, 6 days a week is what you need to keep your muscles in shape. If you lead an active lifestyle, you could even opt for jogging twice or thrice a week. Maintain a moderate pace as walking too fast could also provide the fertile land for muscle mass deterioration.
[ Read: How To Make Your Cardio More Enjoyable ]
- Maintain a healthy weight
According to various studies conducted on the link between muscle mass and body weight, it was noticed that people who enjoyed a healthy weight, despite being slightly overweight, during their younger days had lesser chances of muscle mass deprivation. So, strive to maintain a healthy weight. Cut down the intake of refined foods, junk foods, deep-fried foods, refined sugar, and salt to ensure that your weight is not turning into your enemy.
- Eliminate smoking and quit alcohol
It is true. People who are chain smokers or who use tobacco extensively have higher risks of developing sarcopenia than non-smokers. The carcinogens slowly eat away the muscles, thereby increasing the risk. The case is somewhat similar when it comes to alcohol. While a glass of red wine now and then is good for your heart, daily intake in excessive amounts could put your health at risk.
[ Read: How To Get Rid of Smoking ]
If you haven’t started noticing that your muscles are eroding way, then please do it now. Watch out your diet and exercise. Revamp your lifestyle so that you will be healthy during your sunset years as well!