During a lifetime, the human body is always undergoing many visible and invisible changes. As we grow older, we are constantly reinventing ourselves on a physical, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional level. While most people become stronger spiritually and emotionally, due to the experiences they have accumulated, throughout the years their bodies start to lose their strength.
Some individuals age beautifully and manage to stay alert and active throughout their entire lives. They invest their spare time in fun activities, such as yoga or jogging, which keep them active and healthy in the long run. On the other hand, some experience the symptoms of osteoarthritis and other age-related health concerns, which stop them from getting involved in engaging outdoor activities that would otherwise do wonders for the body, mind, and spirit.
What Happens to Our Muscles as We Age?
As we age, our entire bodies suffer dramatic changes that inevitably impact our lifestyle and well-being. Over time, aging muscles, joints, and bones can lower one’s level of flexibility, mobility and independence. Aging muscles start to lose mass and shrink. While this process is natural, it can take place at a faster pace when a sedentary lifestyle is part of the equation. The muscles of aging people decrease in number and size. Muscles have a longer response time when people are in their 50’s, compared to the one that they had when they were in their early 20’s.
Also, tendons, the bands that connect bones to muscles, have a reduced water content, which makes it more difficult for tissues to manage stress. As a result, tissues become stiffer. In most cases, these changes result in a decreased handgrip strength, which means that aging people become less able to perform daily tasks, such as changing a light bulb or opening a jar.
Moreover, the heart starts to pump smaller quantities of blood to the organs that require nutrients and oxygen to function properly. As a result, aging individuals get tired faster than ever before, and need longer periods of time to recover after a sleepless night or an intense workout. Also, their bodies have a slower metabolic rate, which means that the body needs more time to transform the foods that they eat into energy. Slow metabolic rates may lead to other health concerns, such as elevated levels of bad cholesterol and obesity.
How to Prevent Muscle Loss Successfully
People over 30 start losing muscle function and mass. This is the unpleasant truth that any adult must acknowledge to be able to implement the light lifestyle changes leading to healthy aging. According to recent studies cited by WebMD, individuals over 30 with a sedentary lifestyle can lose up to 5% of their total muscle mass each decade. Muscle loss is an important concern that should be taken very seriously, considering that it could easily impact one’s mobility, strength, and overall quality of life. The loss of strength and muscle mass caused by aging, also known as sarcopenia, can be linked to several symptoms, including hormonal imbalances, a reduced ability to convert protein into energy, loss of stamina, and weakness.
The good news is that a well-balanced prevention plan meant to counterbalance the most disrupting effects of the natural aging process could help the elderly hold on to their independent lifestyle, attractive appearance, and youthful spirit for a longer period of time, defying their chronological age. Such a plan is based on three key principles -a personalized workout regimen, a healthy diet, and a positive outlook on life may give seniors the chance to overcome many age-related concerns, and adjust to inherent changes with more ease.
Exercise is seen as the most effective and accessible treatment for muscle loss. While any type of sustained physical activity could yield positive results in the long run, strength training and resistance training seem to be the two most efficient options at hand for people who wish to delay the effects of the natural aging process. Using resistance bands or weights, these two engaging activities can help aging people boost muscle strength. At the same time, resistance training is the best choice for individuals who want to give their neuromuscular system a much-needed push and enhance their body’s ability to transform protein into valuable energy.
Dietary habits also influence the strength and well-being of seniors in a significant manner. Healthy eating provides a number of notable advantages at any age, including a stronger body, an increased lifespan, and a better mood. The ideal diet for rebuilding muscle should include higher amounts of complex carbohydrates; pasta, granola, or whole grain bread, and lean protein; fish, chicken and beans.
In some cases, aging adults may need to boost their protein intake to protect their muscles and delay the effects of aging. This goal can be achieved in more than one way, by adding fresh spinach to a smoothie, or by adding seafood or chicken to at least one daily meal. By eating high-quality proteins each day, aging people could delay muscle mass and function loss, prevent depression and anxiety, and even think clearer. Before deciding to embrace a personalized diet and exercising routine, patients should rely on the expert advice of a physician to make an informed decision and undergo positive changes that could actually transform their bodies and entire lives in the most satisfying manner.
Therapy Can Help Restore Strength and Independence in Older Adults
With age, our physical coordination reports a gradual decline. This is one of the reasons why aging adults are no longer able to complete tasks that they once considered elementary. Under these circumstances, it goes without saying that intense workouts are not exactly the best option at hand, especially when the elderly are dealing with other health concerns, such as diabetes or elevated blood pressure. Also, after a long period of inactivity, older adults may be forced to deal with another pressing problem: muscle atrophy, commonly linked to prolonged bed rest after an injury or an illness.
Older adults experiencing a decline in physical coordination and loss of muscle strength could benefit from a personalized workout regimen designed and monitored by a physical therapist that is based on their individual necessities, age, and physical condition. A skilled therapist can establish the optimal frequency and intensity for a workout plan meant to boost the patient’s strength and endurance. Rebuilding muscle can take time, especially after long periods of rest. During therapy, patients will learn to maintain a positive mindset and set realistic goals.
Many people of all ages experiencing muscle loss, generalized weakness or a decrease in strength could benefit from rehabilitation. At Healthcare Therapy Services, Inc. (HTS), our therapists are experts in rehabilitation for adults 50+. Our highly experienced team of physical, occupational and speech therapists use evidence-based clinical programs to treat a wide variety of conditions and diagnoses. Contact us for more information: HTS Therapy