Sarcopenia or Muscle atrophy
There are so many reasons why fitness and exercising as you grow older, (or mature), is such
an important thing to do. This is a ‘broad brush’ blog which just gives you some basic reasons why you need to get your trainers on, get into some comfortable clothes and get moving!
For me and others, who are maturing, a pretty major reason to exercise as you age, is because, our muscles naturally atrophy, (personally I find this pretty scary!) that is to say they start to waste away or a gentler description; start to generally decline in effectiveness and lose vigour through underuse or neglect. This decline is a natural part of ageing, but we can do something about it. Starting around age 25, this condition, called sarcopenia, sets in. After age 45, you lose approximately 1 percent of your total muscle mass per year if you do not do targeted exercises to keep it. By the time you reach age 65, the weakness and lack of tone related to sarcopenia becomes significant.
For women around the peri menopause and then particularly menopause this is accelerated as is a loss of bone mass… this is a whole other topic!
Why does this matter?
Without significant muscle mass, your metabolism suffers. Muscle burns more calories than fat. A body with a higher proportion of muscle burns a greater number of calories at rest in a more efficient manner. As a result, you have an easier time managing your weight.
Being overly fat, even if you are of normal weight, increases your risk of certain diseases, including heart disease, stroke, some cancers and Type 2 diabetes. Loss of muscle mass can also lead to loss of function. It may be harder to do the simple day to day things you need t
o do such as chores, play with the kids or grandchildren, gardening, carry the shopping or walk up the stairs. Never mind all the fun stuff you might like to do.
As you continue to age, loss of muscle impedes balance and can cause dangerous falls and limit your ability to care for yourself.
Thankfully, we can do something about it!
How fast you lose muscle mass and function depends on how you care for your body.
Taking part in regular exercise, particularly strength training slows the rate at which you lose muscle and can actually increase muscle mass. Ideally should do this ‘functional str
ength training’ at least two-days per week. In a typical gym setting this should include at least one exercise to address the back, legs, chest, arms, abdominals and shoulders with eight to 10 repetitions. The weight you use should bring you to fatigue by the last one or two repetitions.
Give yourself at least a day between strength-training sessions so your muscles can recover and grow stronger. As you progress, add an additional day and additional sets of exercises. If the activity becomes too easy, ramp up the weights so you continue to reach fatigue by the last couple of repetitions. If you opt for a traditional gym environment you really should combine your strength-training routine with a regular cardiovascular fitness plan that has you moving at a moderate intensity at least 150 minutes per week, you need to be out of breath and start to break a sweat!
Do not think that the gym is your only option to build muscle, it is not! Some research has compared loaded exercises with bodyweight exercises, showing similar results in how much muscle the participants gained. For example, one small study comparing a loaded bench press to a bodyweight push-up and demonstrated similar muscle gains in the p
ecs and triceps after an eight-week period. Another small study on post-menopausal women at high risk for type 2 diabetes found that 12 weeks of high-intensity bodyweight interval training increased muscle mass to a similar extent as a combination of aerobic and resistance training. And, in another study, one group did a series of elbow flexion exercises (think: bicep curls) with a heavy load, and the other did the exercises with bodyweight, making sure to maintain tension throughout the full range of motion. The bodyweight group had a comparable increase in muscle size to the group with a heavy load. So there you go, bodyweight HiiT is a great alternative, but also Pilates style moves work wonders too!
Lucky for you, all of our classes, F2F or live online and on demand tick all of these boxes. If you're not already enjoying some of these classes, we'd love to welcome you along!
We perform ‘functional’ exercises, that is those exercises that will often mimic the sorts of things we do in real life, with weights (Kettlebells or Dumbbells) and we always have a cardio element to the class! These are fun, effective classes that will help you stay in shape and help you age, or ‘mature’ in the best possible way!