Lack of Exercise, Not Aging, Causes Weakness and Loss of Muscle in Older People
Aging does not cause you to lose muscles. Loss of muscle is caused by lack of exercise. You can preserve both muscle size and strength by continuing to exercise as long as you live. Here are MRIs of the legs of 40- and 70-year-old triathletes, and a 70-year-old non-exerciser:
The dark spots are muscle, the light spots are fat. Which legs would you like to have?
Forty competitive athletes, aged 40-81, who trained four to five times a week, had the same size muscles, the same absence of fat around their muscles, and close to the same strength as much younger athletes (The Physician and Sportsmedicine, September 2011).
Many of the diseases and debilitating conditions associated with aging are caused by lack of exercise. “Exercise decreases body fat and obesity, increases muscle strength, improves balance, gait, and mobility, decreases likelihood of falling, improves psychological health, reduces arthritis pain, and heart
attacks, osteoporosis, cancer, and diabetes.”
After age 40, the average person loses more than eight percent of muscle size per decade. This loss increases to 15 percent per decade after age 75 years. Older people who lose muscles are four times more likely be disabled, have difficulty walking, and need walkers and other mechanical devices to help
them walk (Am J Epidemiol, 1998; 147(8):755-763).
This post was taken from Dr. Mirkin’s eZine on health and fitness.The primary benefit my practice brings to animals, human or otherwise, is the knowledge of how to develop and encourage the right types of movement to improve health. In short. 🙂
The primary attribute that YOU bring is follow-through, compliance. Thank you.
Which Nutritional Factors Help Preserve Muscle Mass, Strength and Performance in Seniors?
Jan. 18, 2013 — New review by International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Nutrition Working Group examines role of nutrition in sarcopenia, with focus on protein, vitamins D and B, and acid-based diet.
Sarcopenia, or the gradual loss of muscle mass, is a common consequence of aging, and poses a significant risk factor for disability in older adults. As muscle strength plays an important role in the tendency to fall, sarcopenia leads to an increased risk of fractures and other injuries.
The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Nutrition Working Group has published a new review which identifies nutritional factors that contribute to loss of muscle mass, or conversely, are beneficial to the maintenance of muscle mass. The Group reviewed evidence from worldwide studies on the role of nutrition in sarcopenia, specifically looking at protein, acid-base balance, vitamin D/calcium, and other minor nutrients like B vitamins.
“The most obvious intervention against sarcopenia is exercise in the form of resistance training,” said Professor Jean-Philippe Bonjour, co-author and Professor of Medicine at the Service of Bone Diseases, University of Geneva. “However, adequate nutritional intake and an optimal dietary acid-base balance are also very important elements of any strategy to preserve muscle mass and strength during aging.”
The review discusses and identifies the following important nutritional factors that have been shown to be beneficial to the maintenance of muscle mass and the treatment and prevention of sarcopenia:
Protein: Protein intake plays an integral part in muscle health. The authors propose an intake of 1.0-1.2 g/kg of body weight per day as optimal for skeletal muscle and bone health in elderly people without severely impaired renal function.
Vitamin D: As many studies indicate a role for vitamin D in the development and preservation of muscle mass and function, adequate vitamin D should be ensured through exposure to sunlight and/or supplementation if required. Vitamin D supplementation in seniors, and especially in institutionalized elderly, is recommended for optimal musculoskeletal health.
Avoiding dietary acid loads: Excess intake of acid-producing nutrients (meat and cereal grains) in combination with low intake of alkalizing fruits and vegetables may have negative effects on musculoskeletal health. Modifying the diet to include more fruits and vegetables is likely to benefit both bones and muscles.
Emerging evidence also suggests that vitamin B12 and/or folic acid play a role in improving muscle function and strength.
As well, the Review discusses non-nutritional interventions such as hormones, and calls for more studies to identify the potential of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in the prevention of sarcopenia.
Dr. Ambrish Mithal, co-author and Chair and Head of Endocrinology and Diabetes division at Medanta, New Delhi underlined the need for further research in the field. “Strategies to reduce the numbers of falls and fractures within our aging populations must include measures to prevent sarcopenia. At present, the available evidence suggests that combining resistance training with optimal nutritional status has a synergistic affect in preventing and treating sarcopenia, ” said Mithal.
“We hope that further studies will shed light on other effective ways of preventing and treating this condition.”
Bone Strength – From MedlinePlus
Exercise, lifestyle, and your bones
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become brittle and more likely to fracture (break). With osteoporosis, the bones lose density. Bone density is the amount of bone tissue that is in your bone.
Exercise plays a key role in preserving bone density as you age.
Make exercise a regular part of your life. It will help keep your bones strong and lower your risk of osteoporosis and fractures as you get older.
Before you begin an exercise program, talk with your doctor if you are older, have not been active for a while, have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or any other health condition.
How Much and What Type of Exercise?
To build up bone density, the exercise must make your muscles pull on your bones. These are called weight-bearing exercises. Some of them are:
Brisk walks, jogging, playing tennis, dancing, or other weight-bearing activities such as aerobics and other sports
Careful weight training, using weight machines or free weights
Weight bearing exercises also:
Increase bone density even in young people
Help preserve bone density in women who are approaching menopause
To protect your bones, do weight bearing exercises 3 or more days a week for a total of over 90 minutes a week.
If you are older, do not do high-impact aerobics, such as step aerobics. This type of exercise may increase your risk of fractures.
Low-impact exercises like yoga and tai chi do not help your bone density very much. But they can improve your balance and lower your risk of falling and breaking a bone. And, even though they are good for your heart, swimming and biking do not increase bone density.
Other Lifestyle Changes to Help Your Bones
If you smoke, quit. Also limit how much alcohol you drink. Too much alcohol can damage your bones and raise your risk of falling and breaking a bone.
If you do not get enough calcium, or if your body does not absorb enough calcium from the foods you eat,your body may not make enough new bone. Talk with your health care provider about calcium and your bones.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb enough calcium.
Ask your health care provider if you should take a vitamin D supplement.
You may need more vitamin D during the winter or if you need to avoid sun exposure to prevent skin cancer.
Ask your health care provider about how much sun is safe for you.
Osteoporosis – exercise; Low bone density – exercise
Lewiecki EM. In the clinic. Osteoporosis. Ann Intern Med. 2011 Jul 5;155(1):ITC1-1-15; quiz ITC1-16.
National Osteoporosis Foundation. Clinician’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis. Washington,DC: National Osteoporosis Foundation; 2010.
Update Date: 5/17/2012
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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Strength training stops bone loss and builds muscle in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors: a randomized, controlled trial.
School of Nursing, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR 97239, USA. email@example.com
- Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Jun;127(2):457.
Targeted exercise training could reduce risk factors for fracture and obesity-related diseases that increase from breast cancer treatment, but has not been sufficiently tested. We hypothesized that progressive, moderate-intensity resistance + impact training would increase or maintain hip and spine bone mass, lean mass and fat mass and reduce bone turnover compared to controls who participated in a low-intensity, non-weight bearing stretching program. We conducted a randomized, controlled trial in 106 women with early stage breast cancer who were >1 year post-radiation and/or chemotherapy, ≥ 50 years of age at diagnosis and postmenopausal, free from osteoporosis and medications for bone loss, resistance and impact exercise naïve, and cleared to exercise by a physician. Women were randomly assigned to participate in 1 year of thrice-weekly progressive, moderate-intensity resistance + impact (jump) exercise or in a similar frequency and length control program of progressive, low-intensity stretching. Primary endpoints were bone mineral density (BMD; g/cm²) of the hip and spine and whole body bone-free lean and fat mass (kg) determined by DXA and biomarkers of bone turnover-serum osteocalcin (ng/ml) and urinary deoxypyrodiniline cross-links (nmol/mmolCr). Women in the resistance + impact training program preserved BMD at the lumbar spine (0.47 vs. -2.13%; P = 0.001) compared to controls. The resistance + impact group had a smaller increase in osteocalcin (7.0 vs. 27%, P = 0.03) and a larger decrease in deoxypyrodinoline (-49.9 vs. -32.6%, P = 0.06) than controls. Increases in lean mass from resistance + impact training were greatest among women currently taking aromatase inhibitors compared to controls not on this therapy (P = 0.01). Our combined program of resistance + impact exercise reduced risk factors for fracture among postmenopausal breast cancer survivors (BCS) and may be particularly relevant for BCS on aromatase inhibitors (AIs) because of the additional benefit of exercise on muscle mass that could reduce falls.”
A comment from me, Deborah: I know of medical doctors, specialists, oncologists…who are ceasing to prescribe the pharmaceuticals that were developed to be used for osteoporosis and osteopenia yet have turned out to be destructive in the long run, and instead they are recommending weight-bearing exercise to improve bone density. Specific exercise under controlled circumstances is proved to be beneficial for healing of bone after surgery as well.