Category Archives: Aging

Sarcopenia – The Keys to Reversing the Signs of Aging

In the previous post about aging I covered sarcopenia, the term that scientist use when discussing the loss of muscle mass, stooped posture and slowed uncoordinated movement that often besets older people. This is the combined result of biological changes in the body that include a slowing of synthesis of needed proteins, a loss of the hormones testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone) and the dieing off of neurons that the body uses to stimulate the muscles to action.

According to a USDA website these normal aging processes begin to occur at around the age of 45 when we start to lose about one percent of muscle mass per year. The loss is accelerated at the age of around 60.

Leading a sedentary life will make the effects of sarcopenia worsen as we grow older. This has been proven over the years by tests performed by NASA who noticed “old age” type symptoms of otherwise very fit astronauts who returned from long periods in space where their movement and exercise where extremely limited.

Doctors and scientist have discovered  that sarcopenia and the  muscle degradation that the astronauts faced have  a common cure: resistance training . Doctors have long recommended at least 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise like jogging or walking. This kind of exercise is great for the cardiovascular system, it may even add a little muscle, but resistance training that requires the use of weights to build muscle is what is needed to have any real gains. Multiple  studies since the late 1990s point to resistance training  as the best  tool against sarcopenia, many physical therapists and doctors  are advising resistance training  over aerobic exercise.

Beginning resistance training in mid-life delays and reduces the appearance of sarcopenia later and  one study showed that elderly people aged 78 to 84 who went on a program experienced an average increase in protein synthesis of 182 percent. Another study, funded by the USDA, found that elderly participants who trained  for 45 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks saw an average increase of 32 percent for muscle fiber and a 30 percent increase in strength.In effect, reversing the signs of aging!

Exercises for Fitness Over 50

Enhanced by Zemanta

Aging Is Inevitable – Or Is It Really?

95 y.o. woman holding a 5 month old baby boy (...
Image via Wikipedia

If you’re over 50 your fitness depends on many factors,  some we can control and unfortunately some we can’t. Many of the ones that we have no control over are hereditary, they just “run in the family”. These would be things like heart disease, diabetes and even obesity. One thing beyond everyone’s ability to do anything about though regardless of who their parents are is aging. Or is it really?

As the body ages it sometimes tends to stoop, the skin begins to sag, movement can become slower and uncoordinated. This is all a result of loss of muscle mass, a condition known as sarcopenia. For most of the history of mankind these traits were considered a given. Part of the aging process and nothing could be done about it. Luckily today research upon research has determined that sarcopenia or at least profound sarcopenia is NOT inevitable.

True, there are some contributing factors of sarcopenia that are still beyond our reach such as disease and environmental factors but as it pertains to getting older the main causes that we CAN affect are hormone changes, protein deficiency and motor unit restructuring.

Muscle is made up of proteins. The body is in a constant state of trying to reach a balance between making more protein and using what protein there is available for energy. These processes are called synthesis and metabolism respectively.

The body can produce some proteins itself by converting amino acids. Other needed proteins cannot be made by the body and are acquired from outside sources, these are called “essential proteins” and are derived from the foods that we eat.

As we age, withstanding disease or trauma, we never stop metabolizing proteins but we do steadily lessen the ability to synthesize our own internally. It is thought that this is due to the decrease in hormones testosterone and HGH or human growth hormone. This is where protein and hormone loss contributes to the aging process.

Motor Unit Restructuring happens when the signaling mechanisms (motor neurons) that control the muscles start to die off. There are two types of these neurons, ones that control fast movement and ones that control slower movement. It seems that the ones that control fast movement die first, when this happens the other slower neurons step in and take their place. This is good because other-wise the muscle would die too, but it does noticeably slow the reaction time between thought and movement. It also can cause slooped posture and sagging skin.

Next time I will talk about ways to minimize or reverse the effects of sarcopenia.

Enhanced by Zemanta