I am sure a lot of people have heard the term “use it or lose it” before. However, many may not realise how true this really is. The human body is an incredibly efficient organism and great at adapting to change which means, depending on the stimulus this may not always be a good thing. A lack of physical activity or change to a sedentary lifestyle can have a devastating impact on our overall health and chronic disease risk. Additionally, it can accelerate our age-related decline and lead to complications associated with early frailty such as falls, fractures and severe restrictions in mobility and functional capacity.
The loss of muscle mass as we age is a natural process and is known as sarcopenia, the loss of bone mass as we have previously discussed is osteopenia/osteoporosis. In general, we will lose 3-5% muscle mass each decade from the age of 30. This may not sound like a lot but over time this leads to a large deficit in strength and can severely impact an individual’s independence. Of course, there are several factors to consider when examining how rapidly our lean muscle mass and bone mineral density will decline such as diet, physical activity, hormones, and genetics.
The good news is research shows exercise can slow/reverse the effects of sarcopenia, improve bone mineral density, and improve joint health. However, even though any exercise is better than none, not all exercise has the same effects on improving muscle mass and muscle strength. Progressive resistance training will have the greatest effect on lean muscle mass which can include the use of things such as free weights, body weight, machines or Therabands. Additionally, it is important to consider implementing a structured balance/coordination program to decrease risks of falls and fractures as we age.
If you would like any further information regarding anything mentioned here or would like to know how exercise could benefit you, please do not hesitate to contact our team!