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For many people, aging is a process that brings contentment, but it also leads to some changes that can be markedly unpleasant. One of the most common issues older adults face – and one with some wide-ranging consequences – is the loss of muscle mass and strength, which is often the result of a condition called sarcopenia. While this may seem like a minor problem, the truth is that sarcopenia can have a severe impact on a person’s quality of life, but there are some steps seniors can take to fight this process and regain their strength. Still, given the association aging has with physical weakness in many people’s minds, you might be wondering, “Can a 70-year-old build muscle? And if so, how?” To find out, keep reading as the experts at ENU, makers of protein shakes for seniors looking to build muscle, cover this topic at length.
What Happens to the Muscles of a 70-Year-Old?
Although it doesn’t happen to everyone, there comes a time when many people will experience a rapid decline in the amount of muscle tissue they have. This process often begins much younger, even as early as age 30, with many younger adults losing as much as half a pound of muscle per year for two or three decades. Once they reach late adulthood, however – say, age 60 and older – this rate can go up as high as a loss of 15% per decade, which is why so many 70-year-olds see da significant loss of muscle mass. There are a number of reasons why this can happen, ranging from hormonal changes to a poor diet, but two particular ailments – sarcopenia and cachexia – also commonly contribute to these symptoms.
The term “sarcopenia” comes from a Greek phrase meaning “poverty of the flesh,” and if you understand the symptoms, you’ll see why. As a pathological condition, sarcopenia refers to the fairly rapid loss of muscle mass due to aging, which can diminish a person’s sense of independence by limiting mobility and making everyday tasks more difficult. It can also increase a person’s risk of falling by affecting their gait and sense of balance, so it can be especially dangerous to 70-year-olds.
While sarcopenia is a natural part of aging, cachexia is related to something more serious. This condition is experienced by those battling severe illnesses, such as cancer, and involves a substantial loss of body tissue, including muscle mass. Unlike sarcopenia, cachexia can be difficult if not impossible to treat, so it’s a much bigger problem for 70-year-olds who have it.
How a 70-Year-Old Can Build New Muscle
Just a 70-year-old’s body might not make muscles like it used to doesn’t mean that they can’t build new muscle to fight the onset of sarcopenia and similar conditions. In fact, the process of adding muscle mass at 70 years old is virtually identical to the process used by those who are half that age. For most older adults, building muscle comes down to two factors, diet and exercise, and can be facilitated with some simple lifestyle changes. In other words, not only can 70-year-olds build muscle, but they can do so in a way that’s safe and accessible, too.
The first and more difficult requirement to build muscle at 70 years old is working out. To stop the loss of muscle mass and build up your strength, the muscles you already have must be put to work in a way that gradually increases the intensity over a period of months, a process known as progressive resistance training. A typical example of one of these routines would be to do eight or nine exercises spaced out into two to three workouts each week, depending on your health and comfort level. A personal trainer can be a valuable tool when coming up with the right routine for you, but first, it’s important that you talk to your doctor about starting to exercise to ensure that it’s safe.
Protein with Leucine
The second – and equally important – factor when building muscle as a 70-year-old is diet. After all, spurring your body to make new muscles won’t mean much if you don’t also give it the materials it needs to create those tissues, and the most important nutrient when doing so is protein. Unfortunately, most seniors don’t get enough protein in their diets, so it may be helpful to incorporate a protein-rich meal replacement shake or nutritional powder with leucine. Of all the amino acids, leucine is most important when creating muscle because it stimulates the process of muscle protein synthesis, meaning that it encourages the body to make more muscle fibers after exercise. In addition, you may want to ask your doctor about the benefits of supplementing with vitamin D, as a lack of this nutrient is typically associated with a loss of strength.
Add an ENU Protein Shake or Nutritional Powder to Help Build Muscle at 70 Years Old
Just because you’re in your golden years doesn’t mean you can’t keep up your strength or build new muscles. By simply engaging in regular exercise and getting plenty of protein each day – at least half a gram per pound of body weight – you can fight conditions like sarcopenia and improve your health and quality of life. ENU meal replacement shakes offer 20 grams of easily digestible protein from whey and soy, not to mention healthy fats, complex carbs, and more than 20 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D. To learn more about ENU products and how they can help you, visit us online or call (855) 266-6733 today.