Chris Gronkowski is a guest contributor to StrongPath.com. He’s a former 3-year starter in the NFL for the Cowboys, Colts and Broncos, and is the CEO of Ice Shaker. Ice Shaker has been featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, Good Morning America, HLN morning express, Forbes and others. Chris is the middle of the five Gronkowski brothers and has started writing about his athletic and entrepreneurial experiences.
Though sarcopenia does not usually begin to take effect until you’re in your 50s, it’s important for young people to learn about this degenerative disease to have a better chance of preventing it. For older adults who have not been diagnosed with sarcopenia, there is still time to make some alterations to your lifestyle in order to reduce the risk of developing it. If you’ve already been diagnosed with sarcopenia, there are steps you can take to help improve your condition if you stick to a strict strength training routine and healthy diet. Learn more about the effects of sarcopenia and how to prevent and improve this condition.
What Is Sarcopenia?
Sarcopenia is a medical term for the loss of muscle tissue and strength, typically associated with the aging process. Mostly affecting people over the age of 50, sarcopenia is sometimes thought of as a natural occurrence, which is true to some extent. But with a conscious effort to work out and increase muscle mass, it can be prevented. For those who are already suffering from sarcopenia, it is possible to reverse the effects and rebuild muscle tissue.
Sarcopenia tends to speed up around age 75, so it’s important to implement preventative measures throughout your lifetime to minimize the effects. Symptoms of sarcopenia include fatigue and physical weakness in your muscles.
What Causes Sarcopenia?
As we age, our bodies do naturally begin to change with bones becoming more brittle, muscles losing strength and joints stiffening. Though it’s true that some aspects of aging are unavoidable, many of these physical effects can be prevented or at least diminished by taking steps earlier in life to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. Here are some of the best ways to prevent sarcopenia.
Working out regularly is the absolute key to preventing (and healing) sarcopenia. The sooner you implement a moderate to strenuous exercise routine into your daily life, the less likely you are to develop sarcopenia. People who lead an inactive lifestyle speed up the process of muscle degeneration due to lack of use. Performing some type of physical activity each day will greatly reduce your chances of sarcopenia, particularly if you’re working on strength or resistance training. The more you build up your muscles as a younger person, the less muscle mass you will lose as you age. While it is important to begin implementing these habits into your life as soon as possible, you should maintain an active lifestyle at any age to avoid muscle loss.
A Well-Balanced, Protein-Rich Diet
Exercise is certainly an important part of sarcopenia prevention. For the best results, it should also be combined with a proper diet, which includes healthy, nutritional foods and avoids items that have been over-processed and include added sugar or artificial ingredients.
Not only should your diet be centered around nutritious whole foods, but you should pay careful attention to reaching the daily recommended calorie and protein intake for adults. Low protein diets can lead to early muscle degeneration and may cause similar effects like fatigue. Neglecting to consume enough calories can also lead to weight loss and reduced energy levels, factors that can contribute to sarcopenia over time. Unfortunately, as we age it can become more difficult to consume the proper level of protein and calories because of changes in our bodies and tastes. Drinking protein shakes throughout the day is one method to consider to help up your intake.
How to Improve Sarcopenia
Fortunately, sarcopenia is treatable. If you’re used to living a sedentary lifestyle and eating an unhealthy diet, the changes to your lifestyle that will help improve sarcopenia may be difficult–but if you’re determined, it can definitely be done. According to research conducted by the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, about five to 13 percent of people between the ages of 60 and 70 are affected by sarcopenia. That range rises to 70 to 80 percent of elderly people over the age of 80, demonstrating just how important it is to implement preventative actions. If you’re already suffering from sarcopenia, try these methods to increase muscle mass and reduce the effects.
Strength or resistance training is the number one method for improving sarcopenia because it helps reverse the effects of muscle loss by encouraging muscle growth. Though people tend to associate strength training with people who are bodybuilders, anyone can develop a moderate strength training routine that works for their fitness goals and body types. For seniors, these workouts should be less strenuous to prevent other types of injuries. Even if you’ve already begun to lose muscle mass, research shows that it’s possible to regain this strength through training.
When it comes to strength training, you should focus on improving all of your muscle groups. Try out different types of strength training routines until you find one that works for you. Typically, these exercises focus on lower body workouts (squats and lunges), upper body training (bicep curls, tricep workouts and push-ups), hip exercises (deadlifts and hinges) as well as pushing and pulling movements.
Be Sure You’re Getting Enough Protein and Vitamins
In addition to strength training, you should consume a higher level of protein, calories and vitamins. Exercise of any kind encourages our body to exert energy, which needs to be replenished in the form of food. Protein is particularly important when trying to overcome sarcopenia because it helps with the muscle recovery process. As you implement a strength training routine, you should also use a protein shaker bottle to consume shakes before or after exercise to help replace that spent energy. Protein shakes also encourage your muscles to rebuild after standard workout fiber tears, which occur in order to help the muscles become stronger.
The average adult male should be taking in 2,500 calories each day while a woman’s daily recommended intake is 2,000 calories. To improve sarcopenia, it is essential that you pay attention to your calorie intake to make sure you are reaching this level regularly. You should also try to integrate more vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet as these have been known to increase muscle mass and help those with sarcopenia.