age of 30, muscles build up in the body. But after 30, decrease in muscle mass
starts due to the natural aging process. This condition, referred to as Sacropenia,
leads to general reduction in physical activity and at the same time increases
the chance of fracture due to falls in older adults. Though this condition is a
result of aging, there are ways of preventing it and regaining lost muscle mass;
two of the most effective ways are listed below.
and Strength Training
This is indeed the best way to build muscle.
When the muscles are subjected to resistance training, the strength of the
muscles increases. Following a resistance training program consistently is sure
to yield results. It typically involves a combination of weights and
calisthenics. Of course, inclusion of aerobic exercises would be ideal. With
resistance training, it is recommended that the weight used, the repetitions
and the number of sets be increased regularly to continue yielding results and
prevent plateauing. Elders are advised to consult their doctors to prepare
customized programs. The program should be designed in such a way that it suits
the person while at the same time challenges. It should provide enough rest
period too as otherwise injuries might result. A personal trainer would be a
good idea but is not a necessity. Once the person is comfortable with the
training schedule, the intensity of the training can be increased gradually.
One way to do this would be to increase the weight used in exercise,
alternatively if this does not suit the patient, increasing the number of sets
or repetitions while keeping the weight constant would work just as well.
Increasing Protein Intake
As we age, protein should form an integral part
of our diet as it is needed for cell repair as well as growth. Thus, it is
essential for building muscle mass. Protein is broken down into amino acids
which is then used for building muscles. However, as a person ages, the body is
unable to break down the protein efficiently. Therefore, older people need more
protein. As far as protein sources go, red meat and processed meat are best
avoided. Instead, healthier sources of protein like skimmed milk, low fat
yogurt, beans, fish, chicken and eggs are recommended. Protein powders too are
an alternative, but it is best to go for natural sources.
A Word of Warning
A decrease in the hormone testosterone is
suspected to lead to sarcopenia as this hormone is needed for building muscle
mass. Though research has shown that injecting this hormone can aid in building
muscle, it has adverse side effects and hence is neither recommended nor
Thus, the best way to build muscle mass would
be through a combination of eating right and exercising, a very doable solution
indeed, but one that requires consistency and dedication.