These 5 Daily Habits Help Prevent Muscle Loss, Expert Reveals
There are a few surprises that life deals out as you age. Some of them are great, and others, not so much. One prime example is the loss of muscle mass you will inevitably experience, which is a result of decreased hormone levels and a general side effect of growing older. There's nothing you can do about this natural process, but you can incorporate five everyday habits to prevent muscle loss. Read on to see what we learned from an expert.
Eat This, Not That! reached out to Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, the Director of Medical Content & Education at Ro and a member of our Medical Expert Board, who explains the process of sarcopenia, which is losing muscle mass as you age, and the preventative steps you can take in order to avoid it. Unfortunately, muscle loss happens to everyone to some extent, and although it may not sound like a big deal, it can be debilitating.
Losing muscle as you get older can make life quite challenging. Dr. Bohl explains, "Muscles are how we do things—every movement you make is due to a muscle either contracting or relaxing. As you age, maintaining muscle mass is what allows you to maintain functionality and live independently. Muscles are also very important for balance, and if you lose too much of your muscle mass, you can even have difficulty walking."
According to Harvard Health Publishing, weak muscles can inhibit you from performing simple tasks like cleaning, walking, doing errands, balancing, and getting dressed. Muscle weakness can also slow down your ability to snap back from an injury or illness. Sarcopenia can start as early as 35 years of age, typically increasing by 1% to 2% each year. By the time many individuals reach 60, the process can increase to 3% each year. So if taking steps to prevent muscle loss just jumped up on your list of priorities, let's get started. And next, don't miss 5 Daily Exercises To Improve Muscular Endurance as You Age.
Be mindful of what you're eating.
It's always important to be aware of eating well. As you age, it's an absolute must, because inadequate nutrition is a very common cause of sarcopenia.
Dr. Bohl tells us, "For each meal, make sure you're eating enough calories—if you don't, your body will start burning itself (including your muscles) for energy. As part of this, it's also very important to eat a diet that's high in protein. High protein diets help support muscle mass, and protein is also important for building your muscles back after a workout."
Another step for your routine is to add supplements. Dr. Bohl points out, "Certain supplements—such as vitamin D and creatine—may be associated with maintaining muscle mass."
According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, creatine is a very popular supplement in the fitness world marketed to boost one's performance. Research reveals that taking a creatine supplement can enhance your training volume, which can boost your lean muscle mass, along with your muscle strength.
Get up, and be active.
Dr. Bohl stresses the importance of getting up and active, saying, "One of the causes of sarcopenia is physical inactivity, so anything you can do to get out of a chair and move around can be beneficial. You don't need to do the most strenuous activity—even adding a 30-minute walk to your routine each day is better than nothing."
Grab some weights, and start lifting.
If you don't have a set of weights, treat yourself to some ASAP! "The best way to maintain (and potentially even grow) muscles is to regularly challenge them. You can do this through a structured resistance training program or on your own, but make sure you're eventually hitting all major muscle groups in your body. Using your muscles helps prevent losing your muscles," Dr. Bohl says.
Have regular physical exams, and take necessary medications.
Regular check-ups with your physician are a must, along with staying regular with any prescribed medications. Dr. Bohl warns, "Sarcopenia can also be caused by inflammation and certain medical conditions like obesity, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, and more."
To assure you are caring for your body, it's critical to stay on point with any medical conditions you have and be diligent with scheduling your physical examinations.