Around age 40, something starts to happen to your muscles: They begin losing mass. Every decade you age after 40 gives you the possibility of losing up to 8 percent more muscle mass, or up to 25 percent of your muscle mass by age 70. But don’t worry, because any muscle lost can be gained back through weight training and other exercises.
AARP surveyed older adults about their knowledge on aging muscles, and the results were surprising:
- A little over a quarter of those surveyed said they think they’ve experienced muscle loss.
- But less than that (13 percent) said they know a lot about the importance of maintaining muscle mass as they age.
- Around 70 percent of those surveyed said they would increase their daily amount of protein to help guard against muscle loss, but only 37 percent have actually done so.
- The top issue for all survey respondents was maintaining their energy levels
Maintaining—and even improving—your health can begin with your muscles.
4 Interesting Facts about Muscle
1. Muscles are more than what you see on bodybuilders.
Our muscles play a vital role in our movement, posture and balance. When you lose too much muscle mass, it can cause things like fractures and falls. Getting the proper nutrients can help you maintain muscle mass. Look for proteins like those found in fish, black beans, cottage cheese, yogurt or chicken.
2. Maintaining muscle mass can help during times of ill health:
You might not realize it, but a hospital stay can be a common source of muscle mass loss for many older adults. This can be due to inactivity, not getting enough nutrition or the effects of the disease or injury you’re dealing with. Weaker or broken-down muscles can actually affect your ability to recover from an illness or injury.
3. Less fat = healthier muscle:
The more fat you have inside your muscle tissue, the more likely you are to experience the age-related ills of decreased strength, mobility and function. Leaner muscle tissue helps you maintain blood sugar and reduce weight gain.
4. It’s all about the mitochondria:
Mitochondria are like tiny power plants within your muscle cells. They create energy for your muscles by using oxygen to chew up glucose and fat. Mitochondria are also what help keep muscle tissue lean. You can encourage the proliferation of new mitochondria by just going for a brisk walk for 45 minutes a day, three to seven days a week, research shows.
You don’t have to accept muscle mass loss as a normal part of the aging process. Getting adequate nutrition and remaining active can help you fight that loss and stay strong.