What is decreased muscle mass?
Muscle mass naturally decreases as we age, a condition known as sarcopenia. However, other factors can accelerate loss of muscle mass, leading to decreased muscle mass at any age.
Causes of Reduced Muscle Mass
Muscle atrophy is the medical term for decreased muscle mass due to aging, illness, or inactivity. It can happen for many reasons:
- Aging - We typically lose 3-5% of muscle mass per decade after age 30 due to the natural aging process.
- Inactivity or immobility - Lack of physical activity and long periods of inactivity, such as bed rest or immobilization from injury, leads to muscle wasting.
- Poor nutrition - Not consuming adequate protein and calories to sustain muscle mass accelerates muscle loss and atrophy. This especially impacts the elderly.
- Illnesses like cancer, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, AIDS, sepsis, and heart failure can diminish muscle mass. Certain medications also cause muscle wasting as a side effect.
Consequences of Muscle Loss
The consequences of decreased muscle mass are:
- Loss of strength and reduced physical functioning for everyday tasks
- Increased risk of falls and fractures in the elderly
- Diminished quality of life
Building muscle becomes more difficult with age due to reduced (/) and growth hormone production. (/) can help counteract natural declines.
Strategies to Combat Muscle Loss
- Exercise regularly - Strength training and resistance exercises stimulate muscle growth. As little as 2 sessions/week can maintain mass.
- Follow a high-protein diet with adequate calories. Shoot for 0.5-0.8 g of protein per pound of body weight daily.
- Address underlying illnesses or nutritional deficiencies causing muscle wasting.
- Consider (/) or (/) under a doctor's supervision.
- Engage in physical therapy or occupational therapy if needed post-injury or surgery.
The key is to stay active and consume a nutritious, protein-rich diet. Seek medical advice if significant muscle loss interferes with daily function. (/) can also help counteract age-related declines. With proper treatment, decreased muscle mass may be reversible in many cases.