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It’s no secret that aging takes a significant toll on the body, especially as we pass age 70 or so. While genetics certainly play a role in this process, so too do a number of medical conditions and lifestyle factors, all of which can build upon one another to cause a loss of strength and muscle mass. To make matters worse, those of an advanced age often have a hard time exercising – limiting their access to the treatment proven to be most effective at addressing the frailty that comes with old age. It’s common, then, to hear questions like, “Can an 80-year-old build muscle?” To learn more about building muscle and strength as you age, keep reading as the experts at ENU, makers of protein shakes for seniors, discuss the topic at length.

Why 80-Year-Olds Need to Build Muscle

For younger people, building muscle is something often associated with gym-goers and athletes; even when someone heads to the gym to get healthier, the concern tends to be improving overall health, rather than worrying about muscle mass. By necessity, this focus shifts as a person gets older; while things like cardiovascular health and weight management are still important for 80-year-olds, the loss of muscle mass due to aging becomes a greater point of concern. This process, which is known as sarcopenia, can cause a person over the age of 60 or 70 to lose as much as 1% of their total muscle mass per year.

Without taking steps to slow or reverse this physical decline, an 80-year-old can wind up facing a significantly greater risk of serious injury. According to the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, the risk of a fall-related injury for older adults is as much as 2.3 times higher in those with sarcopenia. Because these falls often lead to life-altering fractures that can seriously impair a person’s ability to get around, 80-year-olds need to work to maintain muscle mass if they want to preserve their physical strength, balance, mobility, and overall independence.

How to Build Muscle and Improve Strength at 80 Years Old

It’s an unfortunate fact that many of the factors leading to the loss of muscle mass can’t be avoided; for instance, changes in the body’s hormone levels are generally thought to play a role in the onset and severity of sarcopenia, and there is not yet a treatment option available to mitigate these effects. That said, there are a few things an 80-year-old can do to keep their muscle mass intact, effectively countering the natural changes in the body that cause sarcopenia.

Exercising to Help 80-Year-Olds Build Muscle

As with people of any age, the best way for an 80-year-old to build muscle is through exercise. Of course, there are some additional dangers that come with exercising at an advanced age, such as a greater risk of accident or injury caused by conditions like sarcopenia and osteoporosis, which is why any 80-year-old beginning an exercise routine should consult with their doctor first, then work with a qualified personal trainer who can guide them through the proper forms and help them establish a routine that will be safe and effective.

For most 80-year-olds, the ideal routine will take the form of progressive resistance training, in which the participant starts with no or minimal resistance and slowly increases the amount of weight used as their strength level rises. Not only can this type of exercise help to create new muscle mass, but it will also improve the condition of bones, tendons, and ligaments, allowing seniors to more easily and comfortably move around while reducing the risk of a fall.

Nutritional Requirements for Building Muscle at 80

It’s common knowledge that protein is the most important macronutrient for those looking to build muscle, but what’s less well-known is the fact that many seniors don’t meet even the basic intake requirements for protein; one study found that as many as 40% of older adults don’t have enough protein in their diets. Generally speaking, the guidelines for daily protein intake in healthy adults is about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, but those making an effort to build muscle mass will likely need more – something in the neighborhood of 1 gram per kilogram each day, if not more. To find out what your personal intake should be, divide your weight (in pounds) by 2.2; this is how many grams of protein you should aim to get every day, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

In addition to the protein requirements of building muscle at 80 years old, many seniors need to supplement their vitamin D intake as well. Vitamin D deficiencies are quite common among older adults, and one symptom of the condition is a lack of muscle strength. By adding more vitamin D to their diet, 80-year-olds who lack the vitamin can improve their muscle-building efforts and increase their physical capabilities in a relatively short period of time.

Nutritional Support for 80-Year-Olds Available Today from ENU

As important as they are, meeting the muscle-building requirements outlined above at a point in life when many people lack an appetite and struggle with physical activity can be easier said than done. To make this process easier, consider the meal replacement shakes and nutritional powders available from ENU. These products not only help to boost calorie and protein intake – for instance, our shakes have 20 grams of easily digestible protein per carton – but they offer a variety of other nutrients as well, including 30% of your daily value of vitamin D. To learn more about how 80-year-olds can benefit from ENU products, visit us online or call us today at (855) 266-6733.

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