First publised on 2022-03-20 06:11:14
As one ages, one becomes weaker and slower. This is mainly because the muscle mass in the body shrinks, to be sometimes replaced with fat. Called sacropenia, it is not an old age problem as muscle loss can begin as early as 35 at the rate of one to two percent per year and can accelerate to 3 percent or more after 60. It depends on the body type and the lifestyle where the loss could be mild, moderate or severe or it can even not occur at all. With age, muscles decline in both quantity and quality.
The symptoms of the onset of muscle loss are weakness and fatigue, prone to fractures and injury, loss of appetite and weight loss, lowered stamina, reduced physical activity and strength, inability to perform daily routine activities, shrinking of muscles and frequently getting exhausted in short walks
To complicate matter, when muscle loss occurs, fast-twitch fibres are lost at a greater speed than slow-twitch fibres making you not only weaker but also slower. Weak muscles make daily chores tiresome and make it harder for you to balance properly. Hence, older people are more susceptible to falls, leading to dislocations, fractures and other complications. It is necessary to use support if one faces problem in balancing to avoid falls.
Although loss of muscle mass and strength contribute in a major way in declining function and mobility due to age, there are other factors too. The energy-producing mitochondria inside cells decrease in number and efficiency. Also, as one ages, the nerve-signaling system that calls upon muscle fibres for tasks deteriorates.
Hence it is necessary to go on walks and do power and strength exercises from an early age if one leads a sedentary lifestyle. It is also necessary to maintain a good diet. Remember, muscle loss can begin at 35 or even earlier. The lesser the muscles move, the greater the chances of rapid loss of muscle mass. Thus, keeping the muscle mass working through exercises as one ages is the best way to reverse age-related loss of strength and restore muscle function. Strong muscles and optimum muscle mass also helps one maintain balance and prevent falls.
Source: Articles in Heartbeat of Harvard Medical School and Medimagic.com
Picture courtesy: medimagic.com