Optimize Muscle Mass: Fight Sarcopenia with Exercise and Protein!

As we age, we lose muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, or "poverty of flesh."

As we age, we lose muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, or "poverty of flesh."

I will never forget the day in my late forties when I noticed that I wasn’t filling out my clothes the same way I used to. As an avid exerciser I knew I was slowing the process of muscle loss, but my shape was definitely changing-I was losing the "fullness" in my muscles. My anatomy was not the same—and sarcopenia was the culprit! 

Muscles lose mass and strength as we age, changing appearance and posture.

Muscles lose mass and strength as we age, changing appearance and posture.

Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and strength due to the natural and progressive aging process. Also known as poverty of flesh, and in extreme cases, sarcopenia can be a debilitating condition, resulting in physical disability, poor quality of life and premature death. That’s the bad news! 

The good new is that science continues to show that exercise and proper nutrition can preserve your muscles and help slow the process of sarcopenia! Weight bearing exercises (exercises that force you to work against gravity) stimulate muscle cells and protein consumption plays an important role in maintaining and building muscle tissue.

Unfortunately, many people don’t prepare meals with appropriate amounts of healthy protein and vital nutrients, especially as we age. In example, “Tea and Toast Syndrome”, common among the elderly, does not provide the aging body with necessary nutrients and can further exacerbate the process of sarcopenia. 

Although we can not stop the natural changes that happen with age, we can certainly slow the process through the marriage of good nutrition and exercise. Even though I have lost some muscle mass, I know that it would be WAY worse if I didn't exercise and eat a healthy diet.

A few simple strategies can help us to create strong and healthy bodies that will help to improve quality of life, remain independent longer, and live life to the fullest!