Most people are familiar with osteopenia – lowered bone mineral density, which can weaken your bones and put you at a greater risk for developing osteoporosis and experiencing bone fractures.
Loss of bone density is concerning for obvious reasons.
But what about a loss of muscle?
Sarcopenia – while less known in the common vernacular – is just as important to know about and how to prevent it from happening to you.
Sarcopenia refers to age-related loss of strength and muscle mass.
While many people experience a weakening of their musculoskeletal system as they age, my contention is that it is not an inevitable result of aging.
After the age of about 30-35, your body is prone to begin losing strength, muscle, and bone mass for a host of reasons.
However, the rate and degree are almost entirely up to you! Some people will lose muscle rapidly, while others can maintain it well into their later years.
“But isn’t it normal to lose strength and muscle as I age?”
“Why should I be concerned about it? I don’t want to look bulky like a bodybuilder, anyways!”
While you may not have a goal of being a 70-year-old bodybuilder – which is fair – you should be concerned about losing strength and muscle mass for many reasons.
Not to mention that most people could not look like a bodybuilder even if they tried…so don’t worry about that!
Muscle mass and strength have a lot more to do with your long-term health and function than they do with your appearance. How can muscle affect your health and function as you age?
That means preserving muscle mass, muscular strength, and power are critical to preventing falls and fall-related injuries as you age.
Losing that amount of muscle mass impacts your function, along with your hormonal balance and metabolism. Losing muscle mass and gaining fat mass can become a negative loop for your metabolism that is difficult to overcome.
The more muscle you lose, the harder it is to burn calories. Your body uses less energy overall, and you begin storing more in the form of body fat.
This loss in muscle mass is not as noticeable throughout middle age. However, there tends to be about a 3% loss in muscle mass per decade around the time people reach the age of 40.
Worse yet, that jumps to as much as 1% of muscle mass being lost each year for those age 65 and older.
This general loss in muscle mass also leads to a loss in strength (accelerating up to 1.5% per year after age 65).
Losing strength means you cannot do as much without help from other people. You also are at a greater risk for injury.
But I will not end today with all doom and gloom!
You are not destined for this negative cycle as you age – losing muscle & strength, gaining fat, and being at a higher risk for injuries.
Even though this has become the norm, it does not have to be your norm!
A study by Wrobleski, et al. in 2011 demonstrated that masters athletes, who train their bodies well into old age, can maintain their muscle mass – even into their 70s.
According to Wrobleski, et al., “This study contradicts the common observation that muscle mass and strength decline as a function of aging alone.”
What does this mean for you? You do not need to be an athlete to maintain your muscles. But you do need to train your body!
Strength training and staying active several times/week will set your body up for long-term health, function, and successful living.
The recommendation for most people is to engage in a minimum of:
- 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity cardio exercise OR 75 minutes/week of vigorous-intensity cardio exercise
- 2x/week full-body functional strength training
- Mobility and flexibility training at least a few days/week
- Balance and agility training at least twice a week
If you are curious about what I would recommend based on your personal situation and goals, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to help you determine the best routine for you!
Preserving your lean muscle mass is not only possible, but it is also necessary to maintain your movement, metabolism, and function as you age!
P.S. You can get access to 4-weeks of personalized strength and mobility training at The Med Gym for 50% off the normal price!
We are offering this exclusive Black Friday offer through 12/1/23 to help you Jumpstart Fitness in 2024.
This offer includes:
- A personalized fitness assessment with Functional Movement Screening and InBody body composition screening
- An exercise program designed just for you
- 2 or 3x/week semi-private or private training
- Two complementary nutrition coaching sessions
You can check out this page to learn more and sign up: Jumpstart Fitness 2024 | The MedGym