How do you slow down the loss of muscle mass?
Depending on how old you are, you may have noticed that certain physical activities that used to be very easy for you now require a little more effort. The reason for this may be related to something called sarcopenia, or age-related loss of muscle mass. According to a recent study from Harvard Health, sarcopenia can begin as early as age 35. In this form of muscle atrophy, muscle mass decreases by 1 to 2 percent per year. Once you’re in your 60s, the process will likely accelerate to about 3 percent per year. Scary idea? Don’t worry – there are ways to slow the process down considerably!
Why does muscle mass loss occur?
You already know that once you stop exercising, it’s only a matter of time before you start to lose muscle mass. For most fit girls, regular exercise is relatively easy in our twenties: we are young, fit and motivated and even when we are busy we usually manage to make some time for a workout. But at some point, life gets in the way. Maybe you start a demanding full-time job, have a baby, get an injury, or get sick. Or maybe the reason that at some point you start exercising less frequently – or maybe even stop altogether – is because you simply have other priorities. A less active lifestyle or less training inevitably leads to loss of muscle mass. This is the most common reason people get less fit as they get older. However, if you do manage to maintain the same level of activity, a decrease in muscle mass can also be caused by not getting enough proteins and amino acids. Even if you train as frequently and fanatically as before, if you do not have a balanced diet, there is a good chance that you will still lose muscle mass.
What can you do to prevent loss of muscle mass?
If you look at the causes of sarcopenia, the solution is quite simple: keep exercising and keep an eye on your eating habits. If you want to avoid losing muscle mass as you get older, it is recommended that you do strength training at least 3 times a week. It is important that you target a different muscle group with each workout. In other words, instead of doing a full body workout 3 times a week, you could train your legs and glutes on day 1, for example, your core and back on day 2, and your shoulders and arms on day 3. And no, you don’t necessarily have to go to the gym for an effective workout. In fact, exercises with your own body weight are perfect to prevent loss of muscle mass. Push-ups are very effective as are sit-ups, squats, lunges and planks. You don’t need any equipment to do them. And if you want to challenge yourself a bit more, you can always add dumbbells or resistance bands to your exercises.
It is quite normal for our priorities to change as we get older. But even if you ever reach a point where you don’t care how much muscle mass you have, it’s still important to slow down the process of age-related muscle mass loss as much as possible. Because the less muscle mass you have, the more difficult it is to recover from injuries, illnesses and disorders. In addition, loss of muscle mass can also contribute to other health-related problems. And your health should always be at the top of your priority list – regardless of your muscle mass.