“Sarcopenia – the term for age-related muscle loss, is largely avoidable”

“Sarcopenia – the term for age-related muscle loss, is largely avoidable”

– Scripps Howard News Service. –

Most people do not realize that after the age of 30, their muscles start a natural shrinking process, and the average adult loses around 10 ounces of lean body mass a year, mostly from muscle tissue.  However, this loss is avoidable, given awareness and the right exercise.

Unchecked, Sarcopenia results in a loss of strength that may not be recognized until it is difficult to perform everyday tasks like picking things up, standing, or climbing stairs.  This slow erosion of strength is the major reason elderly people are often forced to move into nursing homes, instead of continuing to care for themselves.

A new understanding of Sarcopenia is emerging: it is not the inevitable consequence of old age, but rather the inevitable consequence of disuse, according to exercise physiologist Michael Hewitt.  Rather than focusing on cardio exercises, the resistance exercises needed to counteract sarcopenia “only take five to eight minutes, twice a week,” according to Hewitt.  “No one can say: I don’t’ have time for that.”

Occupational therapist Larry Woodard adds that it is never too late to get started, as a 70 year can have more muscle mass than they had at 30.  However, it’s not possible for the that 70 year old to have more muscle than they would have had they started strength training in their 30s.  Still, “even a slight increase in muscle strength at any age can significantly improve quality of life – and stave off frailty that used to be considered a normal part of getting old.”

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