Dr Jack A T Edmonds MB BS FRCGP

Your Health in Our Hands

SARCOPENIA - Muscle loss

SARCOPENIA - Muscle loss

After the age of 30 did you know we all start losing a little muscle mass every year and that at about the age of 50 it is about 1% each year.  This happens whether you are active or inactive but more so if your lifestyle is sedentary.  Did you know that our protein requirements increase as we age to maintain healthy muscles.  As we age people move less so muscles are underused which in turn means you lose them if you don’t use them.    You might think this is nothing to be overly concerned about but the fact is that muscle power is important in reducing the risk of falls because it keeps us stable on our legs through the muscles in our core from the hips, thighs and ankles.   The WHO in January this year announced that falls are the second major cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide and people over 65 suffer the largest number of fatalities.  Leading a sedentary lifestyle also comes with the added risk of chronic diseases like heart, diabetes and cancer.

Using our muscles burns energy.  As muscle mass reduces so does our BMR (basal metabolic rate).  This is the reason why so many women experience weight gain around the menopause and beyond.   Our energy requirements are lower but we don’t reduce the amount we consume!  In other words muscle is lost and fat stores are increased!   So we must, especially after the age of 65, focus on some physical activity to include a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, balance and coordination activity every week to aid and help strengthen important key muscles.    Hate the gym?  Don’t shy away from lifting heavy shopping bags or active gardening eg. carrying two watering cans or digging.  Dancing is a great way of keeping your balance together with walking up escalators and slowly down stairs for maximum effect.   When brushing your teeth stand on one leg and alternate with the other.  Stand when you can and try some other exercises to build up healthy muscles. Eg squats, bicep curls, press-ups, stair climbing and calf raises.

Nourishing your muscles is obviously also very important. For each Kg we weigh the current Reference Nutrition Intake (RNI) is 75g of protein.   This protein can be found in turkey and chicken breasts, lean beef, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, seeds and nuts.  Now you can go shopping and work those muscles!