Significant muscle loss is a life threatening condition. The term sarcopenia is given to it. Yet, we don’t hear nearly as much about it as we do osteoporosis, or other diseases.
Muscle loss however is directly tied to bone loss, frailty, risk of falling and fractures. Bedrest, or simply a time of less physical activity than you’re used to can increase loss of muscle.
During the pandemic any one of us could have easily lost muscle had we not made the effort to pick up where commuting, moving through buildings or campuses was no longer a part of our lives.
What’s the best place to start to overcome or rebound from significant muscle loss?
1) adequate calories
2) adequate protein
3) gradual increased daily activity with body weight
4) before finally adding regular exercise programming
Older adults have been researched and studied doing exercise in the 9th and 10th decades of life. It is proven effective at gaining strength regardless of age or prior experience with activity.
It doesn’t however happen by accident.
Significant Muscle Loss
Significant muscle loss occurs in just 3 days of bedrest in older adults. It happens at a dramatically higher rate than compared to 20-something subjects. Part of the reason is the collective time since age 25 when muscle mass peaks. Unless individuals are making an effort to maintain muscle mass by lifting weights muscle is lost more easily than it is gained.
Fast twitch muscle fibers are lost twice as fast as slow twitch muscle fibers. That becomes a secondary problem because of the lack of reaction skills. It makes you more vulnerable to falls because you won’t be able to right yourself if you should stumble.
By beginning a focused healthy diet rich in micronutrients and protein you provide the building blocks for muscle growth. Then progressively begin applying an exercise program that is reasonable and doesn’t cause undue fatigue in the weakened individual.
Remember too that water is stored in the muscle so hydration will be important.
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