Sarcopenia refers to muscle loss as you age, and it affects more than 10 percent of adults over 50 and as many as 50 percent of adults 80 and older.
Sarcopenia on its own causes fatigue and difficulty with daily tasks, but it’s also linked to more serious issues such as:
- increased falling risk
- loss of independence
- high blood pressure
- shortened life expectancy
If you have noticed a significant change in your physical strength or endurance, loss of stamina, or unintentional weight loss, talk to your doctor about the possibility of sarcopenia. Your doctor can check your muscle mass to see whether you actually have the condition.
Sarcopenia can develop as a part of aging, but it can also be caused by immobility, an unbalanced diet, inflammation, chronic illness, or stress.
Your doctor can also help you determine whether your muscle loss is due to aging or to dehydration, anorexia, or cachexia, a serious wasting disorder.
How Can You Prevent Sarcopenia?
Eating a diet high in protein (25-30 grams at each meal) and exercising will help prevent sarcopenia. Weight training and walking are very good for maintaining muscles, as well as yoga and pilates. A sedentary lifestyle will only make muscle loss worse.
Weight training can be done with light weights as well as a resistance band or weight machine. It can also be effective with the resistance of your own body weight, such as push-ups, sit-ups, planks, and squats.
Aerobic exercises like walking, hiking, cycling, jogging, or Zumba are also recommended to complement weight training. Whatever amount of movement you can do is a good start. If you’re having difficulty starting an exercise routine, set a timer for a short amount of time, and gradually increase the time as you progress. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish!
Vitamin D supplements are also recommended for combatting muscle loss. Creatine and Omega-3 fatty acids can also aid in developing muscle strength when taken alongside resistance training. Talk with your doctor before embarking on a supplement regimen.
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