090412 Slowing down muscle loss due to aging

Slowing down muscle loss due to aging

The aging process isn’t kind to our lean muscle mass. The fact is most adults begin to lose muscle at a rate of approximately one to two percent a year after reaching that magic age of fifty. This muscle loss gains speed, particularly in the arms and in the legs of our lower body if not addressed early on in the process.

If not corrected, these areas start looking flabby due to the loss of muscle tonus[1]. Along with the flabbiness comes weakness of the tissues. This can create long-term health problems in the legs if they continue to lose strength because this loss often times leads to falls, which in the elderly can be a life-threatening event.

Many of the problems that are associated with the ageing process can be attributed to this loss of muscle tissue. With the decrease in lean muscle mass, a person often becomes less active and begins a habitual pattern of unhealthy eating. This in turn leads to chronic illnesses and frailty. The end result is a slow, sometimes painful, decline in the ability to live an active life.

In order to prevent this progressive, beyond the normal aging process of muscle loss, it has to be identified. However, as it stands now, there isn’t a standard way of defining or diagnosing sarcopenia[2]. It isn’t as simple as measuring the muscle size. There are also the elements of evaluating changes in the muscle quality and the functional ability of the muscle to do what you want it to do.
[1] Tonus [tō′nəs]
Etymology: Gk, tonos, stretching
1 Also called muscle tone. The normal state of balanced tension in the body tissues, especially the muscles. Partial contraction or alternate contraction and relaxation of neighboring fibers of a group of muscles hold the organ or the part of the body in a neutral functional position without fatigue. Tonus is essential for many normal body functions, such as holding the spine erect, the eyes open, and the jaw closed.
2 also called tone. the state of the body tissues being strong and fit.
[2] sarcopenia /sar•co•pe•nia/ (sahr″ko-pe´ne-ah) age-related reduction in skeletal muscle mass in the elderly. Dorland’s Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers. © 2007 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.
Sarcopenia [-pē′nē•ə]
Etymology: Gk, sarx, flesh, penia, poverty
A loss of skeletal muscle mass that may accompany aging. Studies indicate that the loss of skeletal muscle for the average normally healthy person amounts to about 20% between about 30 and 70 years of age. The loss may accelerate as aging progresses. The muscle is replaced by fat, usually in a subtle way that is not noticed by the individual, as by padding areas of muscle loss with extra fat. Muscle-strengthening and muscle-building exercises can prevent or reverse much of this problem.

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