Falls are the most common cause of injuries during old age. Sarcopenia is defined as age-related muscle loss that occurs after age 30. Inactive adults can lose up to 3-5% of their muscle mass each decade. As early as age 65, this percentage may increase drastically. This muscle loss is usually associated with lower activity levels, less calorie intake, reduced hormonal function, and a reduction in the nerve cell communication. The best way to prevent sarcopenia is resistance training. Resistance training not only improves muscle mass but also improves the body’s neuromuscular function.
So what does this mean?
Increased muscle mass will support joints, help maintain bone density, increase balance and metabolic efficiency and much more. Stronger bones and joints reduce the risk of a fall due to poor balance. As people age, metabolism slows down and therefore cannot maintain muscle mass. The muscle is completely lost and usually replaced with body fat. Additional weight stresses joints and creates a higher risk for injury if a fall were to occur. Proper resistance training once or twice per week will create micro tears in the muscle. Proper recovery will allow the muscles to rebuild and strengthen it’s overall integrity. Increased strength creates more positive stress on the bone structure which helps maintain bone density. See our post on osteoporosis for more information on bone density.
Increased neuromuscular function increases the efficiency of the nerve signals from your brain to your muscles. Each training session your brain is required to communicate with your muscles to tell them to contract and relax and their communication improves every session. Increased ability to communicate means that if you start to fall, you have an increase in balance and the ability to catch yourself before you fall all the way to the ground.
The good news is that sarcopenia can be slowed and falls can be prevented! Here is how:
*Add 1-2 resistance training sessions to your weekly routine as soon as possible. The more muscle you have in your youth, the more likely you will be able to maintain it as you age.
*Remain physically active on your non-training days. Go for a casual walk, swim or bike ride!
*Consume adequate calorie intake, especially protein to fuel your body and maintain muscle mass. It takes a lot of energy to maintain your muscle mass. When you under eat, your body will start getting rid of any extra muscle mass that it can’t keep and will result in reduced muscle mass.
If you would like to learn more about sarcopenia, contact Titanium Performance today!