Looking after your muscles may help prevent falls
It's a common fact of life that as we age, we lose muscle strength. WebMD explains that your muscles generally increase in strength up until around 30 years of age, at which point they hit their optimum condition and gradually start to decrease in mass and function.
There are many things that can contribute to this. It could be reduced levels of physical activity or sedentary behaviour, a decrease in growth hormones, your body's inability to transfer signals from muscles to your brain or to synthesise protein, or a diet insufficient in certain proteins and nutrients.
These may lead to the weakening of your muscles, a condition called sarcopenia. It's derived from the Greek word that translates to "lack of flesh", and exponentially happens with age – generally from 65 to 80, according to WebMD.
It makes sense with the typical lifestyle pattern – once you've retired, and have joined a peaceful retirement community, your levels of activity tend to decrease despite the independent or active lifestyle you have.
Why is it important to prevent sarcopenia from progressing?
It is still important to keep sarcopenia at bay as much as possible. Decreased muscle use means that anything that requires effort is much harder to achieve. Everyday mundane tasks like sitting up, getting out of bed and even walking up the stairs can be a lot more difficult as sarcopenia in your muscles progresses.
Another reason is that stronger muscles help with balance which can prevent falls. An accident can be more detrimental to your health the older and more delicate your body is. This is because you may not have the same resilience to bounce back like a young kid would.
Though your retirement community would be set up with safety in hand, falls are not completely preventable, and may be more likely to happen if your mobility is compromised.
How can you prevent sarcopenia?
MayoClinic suggests incorporating more protein into your diet as the amino acids have been shown to help retain muscle mass.
Exercise is also an all-rounder healthy option – it boosts your health, mood and muscle strength. Take a walk around your retirement village to keep your muscles working and promote a regular flow of blood through your system.
It's more important if you have a condition, such as arthritis, which increases your chances of sedentary behaviour, but there are many gentle exercises you can do that don't require extreme exertion – yoga, swimming and even dancing are a few options.