We are often told that gaining weight as we age is inevitable. Even if you’ve been relatively thin your whole life, you can fully expect that to change as you get older. Are these stories true and are we destined to carry around the excess weight within each of us as we age? This is a common belief that many people have come to accept without question. While this may be an important concern, what most people really want to know is if there is anything that one can do to prevent this from happening or even reverse it if at all possible. The answer is, yes, there is, but you will have to be proactive in making it happen. According to Luke Johnstone of the Street Directory,
This weight gain is due largely to the natural slowing down of the metabolism as we age. This is how people seem to gain weight even when they haven’t really changed their eating habits. Their metabolism has slowed down over time, and they can no longer burn off all of the energy they are consuming.
The result is that your body accumulates a caloric surplus that causes weight gain.
Body Mass IndexOur Muscle Mass Plays a Part
The more muscle you may have the faster your metabolism will work. To put it simply, the more muscle you have to move around, the more energy you will need to move it. With this knowledge of how our muscles play a role in this process, researchers set out to come to a better understanding of why our metabolism begins to slow down as we age and determined the root cause is the direct result of a loss of muscle mass.
Starting in our 20s, our bodies begin to lose about a pound of muscle mass every year. Even if we are physically active on a regular basis we will still lose a bit of muscle mass every year. It is unavoidable, and while it may not seem significant or even noticeable when it starts to happen, we must recognize that this gradual loss in muscle mass over time also means a slow and unrelenting loss of our overall strength and mobility over time. This means that we must do whatever we can to try to stem the tide of our physical vitality slowly ebbing away.
There are a number of contributing factors to this condition that you may have already recognized, but one of the main reasons that our bodies develop this condition has to do with our increasing level of immobility. Once we begin to lose our muscle tissue our bodies can begin to atrophy from the lack of physical activity. According to health professionals at Medline Plus,
People with seated jobs, medical conditions that limit their movement, or decreased activity levels can lose muscle tone and develop atrophy…Bedridden people can have significant muscle wasting. Astronauts who are away from Earth’s gravity can develop decreased muscle tone after just a few days of weightlessness.
Most people will naturally adapt to this loss of muscle and hardly notice it, but even the smallest increment of loss can limit your ability to have fluid movement and maintain a level of strength. For this reason it is very important that we do things to try to counteract this process from taking over our bodies.
Ready for a rideTreatment
While it may seem inevitable that no matter what we do this loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) will occur unabated in our bodies, there are treatments that can help us to slow the tide. Health experts at WebMD tell us that while there may be a number of factors that contribute to this loss, there is one favored method of treatment that we can do,
The primary treatment for sarcopenia is exercise. Specifically, resistance training or strength training; exercise that increases muscle strength and endurance with weights or resistance bands, has been shown to be useful for both the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia.
Researchers have discovered that the value of resistance training can positively influence our neuromuscular systems, our body’s concentration of hormones, and the ability to synthesize proteins in a very short amount of time.
Another cause for the development of sarcopenia could be related to a significant loss of hormones, it is recommended that all adults over the age of 40 should undergo annual blood testing to monitor their hormone levels and address any deficiencies with a hormone replacement therapy. While this may have some effect on improving the body, the recommended approach is with nutrition and supplements along with a safe exercise routine.
The most effective nutritional strategies that can also help to prevent our loss of muscle mass include making sure that our diets are well-balanced to give our energy levels a major boost. This helps us maintain a high level of activity as we begin to age. Will Brink of Life Extension Magazine recommends some very specific nutrients to help in this area,
Several nutrients, including creatine, vitamin D, and whey protein, have shown great promise in combating sarcopenia. Other nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, carnitine compounds, and the amino acid glutamine have biological effects that may be beneficial in promoting healthy muscle mass.
A combination of dietary modifications, hormone replacement therapy, nutritional supplements and exercise all working together can make a major difference in how much lean muscle mass we can hold on to as we begin to age. Once we have learned how to stem the ever-flowing tide of muscle tissue loss, we will be able to maintain our level of strength, functionality, and overall health well into our advanced years.
While it may be tempting to accept this loss as a natural progression of aging and accept our declining levels of strength, it is much easier to maintain this healthier approach to life as we age. It is far better to prevent or slow this progression over time than to wait until our muscles have completely atrophied and try to reverse it. For this reason it is logical that you begin the treatment today rather than waiting until it is too advanced.