You become unsteady when your muscles disappear. Every year from the age of 30, we lose between 0.3 and 1.3% of our muscles. This is a natural aging process. Learn in the article what happens with the declining muscle mass as you age and what you can do about it. Because sarcopenia (muscle atrophy) is preventable.
Symptoms of muscle loss don't occur suddenly like a cold; they develop gradually. Therefore, many people only notice the signs when a significant amount of muscle strength has already been lost. The following signs are typical of sarcopenia:
As you age, you may have noticed some changes in your body. Your general strength and performance might have already declined to some extent. Up to a certain degree, that's normal. However, when it significantly affects your daily life, doctors refer to it as sarcopenia. But what does that mean exactly? Sarcopenia is an excessive loss of muscle mass, often occurring with age. Over time, the body breaks down more and more muscle mass, resulting in decreased strength, which can lead to limitations in daily activities and reduced quality of life. For example, carrying groceries or climbing stairs may become real challenges. If muscle mass decreases significantly, an unstable gait can become more and more of a risk factor for falls and injuries.
But why do our muscles let us down as we age? The answer is not straightforward, but experts believe that both genetic factors and our lifestyle play a role. However, don't worry, there are ways to counteract this development. We can work on our lifestyle by increasing physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet.
Only since 2016 is sarcopenia an official diagnosis that doctors can make. It involves measuring muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical performance. If your values fall below the average of a comparison group corresponding to your age, the diagnosis is sarcopenia. By the way, we also measure muscle mass during AURUM Training, allowing us to detect initial signs of sarcopenia.
You are not alone if you experience muscle loss with age. Sarcopenia affects many individuals over the age of 60. It is estimated that around 5–13% of people over 60 suffer from sarcopenia, and this number can increase up to 50% in those over 80 years old. Certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to excessive muscle loss even in earlier years. Also, injuries and a lack of physical activity can cause short-term muscle wasting. In such cases, focusing on muscle building afterwards can be beneficial.
Sarcopenia not only reduces your quality of life and makes you dependent on the help of others, but it can also shorten your lifespan. So, if you notice the first signs, it's time to take action:
Studies have shown that high-intensity resistance training can help build muscles and preserve important muscle mass, even if sarcopenia is already present. Another advantage is that high-intensity training also strengthens bones. Bone loss (osteoporosis) often occurs in combination with muscle wasting. This type of training addresses two issues at once.
At AURUM, we have developed high-intensity resistance training that is particularly safe and suitable for older individuals. During each session, a personal coach is right by your side, ensuring correct execution of the 6 exercises. What's truly exceptional about our training: Only 20 minutes per week are enough. This way, you'll have the strength to enjoy life to the fullest in no time. How you spend the rest of your free time is entirely up to you.
Besides strength training, a protein-rich diet is essential for the treatment and prevention of sarcopenia. Our muscles need sufficient proteins to stay healthy and regenerate. Therefore, include protein-rich foods in your diet. Examples include fish, poultry, lean meats, dairy products like cottage cheese, legumes, and nuts.
Vitamin D is also a crucial nutrient for strong muscles and bones and is part of the treatment. Learn more about Vitamin D here. Additionally, a deficiency in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids contributes to the development of muscle wasting. So, also pay attention to antioxidants (fresh vegetables, fruits, wheat germ, plant-based oils) and healthy fats (fish, nuts, plant-based oils) in your diet.
Dorothee Volkert, Julia Bollwein, Rebecca Diekmann, Cornel Sieber, Special: Die Rolle der Ernährung bei der Entstehung von Sarkopenie und Frailty, Ernährungs Umschau, 9/2011, DOI: 10.4455/eu.2011.957