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MUSCULAR CHANGES WITH AGING

 

As we age, the amount of muscle tissue [or mass] and muscle strength tend to decrease. This process is called sarcopenia which means “loss of flesh”. Sarcopenia

Muscle mass decreases because the number of muscle fibres decreases. Loss begins around age 30 and continues throughout life and occurs because the levels of growth hormone and testosterone, which stimulate muscle development.

Aging shows a decrease in muscle strength, endurance, size, and weight relative to total body weight. This is more due to inactivity, nutritional deficiency, disease, or other long-standing conditions, rather than chronological aging itself. Weight training has proven to be extremely beneficial in maintaining muscle mass with age, and has additional benefits in maintaining bone density.

The decrease may be due to a reduced blood supply, although the utilization of oxygen is usually unchanged. Consistent to the ‘inactivity’ theory, both the diaphragm and the heart, two muscles that work continuously; appear to be relatively unchanged by aging. Aerobic exercise is beneficial in maintaining oxygenation of the blood by maintaining heart muscle mass and fitness.

 

Typcial Changes in Muscle with Age

Lipofuscin [an age-related pigment] and fat are deposited in muscle tissue. The muscle fibers shrink.

Muscles mass - muscles may become rigid and lose tone even if exercised regularly. Without exercise, estimated muscle mass declines 22 percent for women and 23 percent for men between the ages of 30 and 70. Exercise can prevent this loss. This is due to a combination of reduction in muscle volume and muscle type.

Muscle tissue volume - muscle cells are replaced more slowly, and lost muscle tissue may be replaced with a tough fibrous tissue. This is most noticeable in the hands, which may appear thin and bony.

Muscle tissue type - combined with normal aging changes in the nervous system, the relative balance of muscle type changes, causing reduced ability for fast explosive movements.

 

Impact of Changes in Muscle with Age

Reduced movement - due to pain, stiffness and deformity of the Joints. Inflammation may result in breakdown of the joint structures. These joint changes range from minor stiffness to severe arthritis.

Bones fractures - become more brittle and may break more easily when not supported with muscular cover. Injury risk is greater because of falls related to gait changes, instability, and loss of balance.

Height - decreases, primarily caused by shortening of the trunk and spine.

Postural - the posture may become progressively stooped with the neck tiltling forward and shoulders becoming narrower. The knees and hips more flexed. The pelvis may become wider.

Movement slow and limited - the walking pattern [gait] becomes slower and shorter. Walking may become unsteady, and there is less arm swinging.

Fatigue - occurs more readily, and overall energy and tolerance to activity may be reduced.

Loss of strength and endurance - even fit people with healthy hearts and lungs may find that performance improves in events that require endurance, and decreases slightly in events requiring short bursts of high-speed performance.

Reduced reflexes - most often caused by changes in the muscles and tendons rather than changes in the nerves.

Involuntary movements - muscle tremors and fine movements called fasciculations are more common as we age.

Using body building protein to boost muscle mass with age

Muscle building nutrition

NEXT: Joints & Bones


 

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