Does muscle mass affect your quality of life?
The short answer to this question is yes. According to research, maintaining your muscle strength and agility aids in improving your overall capability as a senior, which in turn, positively affects your quality of life.
Maintaining and preserving muscle mass helps to improve:
- Core strength
- Your sense of balance, preventing falls which can lead to disability
- A better posture
- Daily stamina
- Overall fitness levels
Additionally, maintaining muscle mass helps to reduce metabolic risk, which is a great contributor to heart disease. Ultimately, the stronger you are, the greater your life expectancy.
How to maintain muscle mass in the elderly
Maintaining and preserving your muscle mass as a senior is a way of preventing an osteoporosis of the muscles known as sarcopenia. A decline in muscle mass can begin as early as your thirties, but there are ways to prevent a drastic reduction in overall strength.
1. Strength Training – this involves training with moderate weights two-three times a week. Refer to a physician or physical therapist at the gym who will be able to recommend a senior-friendly weight training routine.
2. Endurance Training – don’t let this terminology put you off, you won’t need to run any marathons! Endurance training is simply engaging in exercise which is focused on maintaining or improving your endurance and stamina. Exercises such as swimming, power walking, Pilates and yoga are good forms of endurance exercise.
3. Eating a balanced diet – this is a no-brainer when it comes to growing old in a healthy and happy manner. In order to build or maintain muscle mass, protein is key. Doctors recommend consuming 7 grams of protein for 20 pounds of body weight per day. E.g. If you weigh 110 pounds, your recommended protein consumption should be in the range of 38.5 grams per day.
If you are a care giver, try and encourage those that you care for to engage in some form of physical activity at least two-three times a week, if they are able-bodied. There is no magic potion to make us live longer, healthier lives - the key is within ourselves and the level of self-care we choose!