Starting from about age 30 people experience as much as 3-5% muscle loss mass each decade. This age related degeneration of muscle is called sarcopenia, and has major health dangers later in life. It’s also preventable AND reversible if you already have it.
Women are particularly vulnerable to muscle loss as they age, but it does happen to men too. Declining levels of testosterone play a big role, and because women only have low levels to start with they are more susceptible.
Consequences of Muscle Loss
You get progressively physically weaker as you get older, and not just physically.
This can creep up on you without you noticing too much until it’s really bad. Or you realise you can’t do what you used to do.
A massive warning sign is needing to use your arms to get out of a chair. If you haven’t the strength in your legs to stand without hauling yourself up – your muscles are not in good shape and I’d suggest taking urgent action before it gets worse.
An advanced case of muscle is an older person who very much struggles to even get out of a chair – when it gets this bad people lose their independence and can end up in a nursing home. This is preventable for lots of people.
Two of the top predictors in aging well are:
- Muscle mass
- Muscle strength
This means that the less muscle you have and the weaker you are – the quicker your body is aging. These two factors outrank even high blood pressure and cholesterol when it comes to living well in middle and older age.
Conventional medicine focuses so intently on things like high blood pressure and cholesterol – putting lots of people on lots of pills. But where is really matters – hardly anything is done!
What Can You Do?
Strength training against the resistance of weights triggers the release of hormones (including testosterone), which helps build muscle, bone, and connective tissues. Is strengthens and builds your body, making you more robust and resilient.
When you rebuild lost muscle you increase your strength, and decrease your biological age. As your body gets healthier and stronger it improves your brain function too!
My favoured way of doing strength training a routine known as the Big 5, from the book Body By Science by Doug McGough. I do it once per week with a friend to make it fun, and it takes me about 8 minutes.
I like to combine that with lots of low level movement – like walking every day, and yoga which maintains my flexibility and also helps with my strength.
Your diet is really important too. It’s not just about eating enough protein to build yourself up, your body has to absorb it too. Digesting protein is more challenging the older you get because stomach acid is on the decline – lot of people make this even worse by talking acid suppressing medication.
Muscle loss is a massive problem for many older women because it accelerates at an alarming rate after the menopause. You can learn lots more about this on the next Menopause Workshop.
Muscle loss accelerates the aging of your entire body, including your brain.
It’s a really serious issue that is pretty much overlooked and ignored by conventional medicine. This often happens when there is no pharmaceutical drug treatment.
The fantastic news is that it is both preventable and reversible by a combination of movement, resistance training against weights, and targeted supplements (including testosterone treatment) – more info coming about this soon.
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