Why is my muscle mass high

Muscle loss: the underestimated risk

Status: 23.01.2018 10:00 a.m. | archive
Muscle loss can be stopped and even reversed through regular exercise - regardless of age.

How well a patient can get back on their feet after a serious operation or injury depends to a large extent on their physical fitness and muscle reserves. Sporty seniors usually cope with major interventions or extensive therapies such as chemotherapy better than significantly younger, untrained people. Anyone who is confined to bed for a week loses 20 to 25 percent of their muscle mass. And it takes at least six weeks for this to be built up again with regular training. Doctors also refer to a loss of muscle mass and strength as sarcopenia. It has recently become a recognized disease.

Muscle mass decreases with age

From the age of 30, people lose up to one percent of muscles per year. The muscles are gradually converted into fat. Without exercise, a person loses up to 40 percent of their muscle mass by the age of 80. At 100, the muscle mass has then reduced by 70 percent. And that has consequences for the entire organism: Less muscle mass means that metabolism and energy consumption are reduced. This results in a decreased appetite and reduced food intake. The result: those affected become even weaker, they move less - and the muscle mass decreases even further. The risk of falls and broken bones increases.

Muscle breakdown can be stopped

The good news is that regular exercise can stop and even reverse muscle loss - regardless of age. However, a walk is not enough. The muscles need to be addressed by pulling, pushing, or lifting. The muscles must therefore be trained specifically so that they do not decrease any further. Those affected should go to their limits. Experts estimate that it takes 140 to 150 minutes of training per week to build strength - the equivalent of five 30-minute training sessions.

Exercise reduces the risk of death

Statistics show that regular physical activity reduces the risk of death by 65 percent. But before they train, older people should definitely have themselves thoroughly examined to rule out risks and to make the individually tailored training as effective as possible. Sports doctors use simple measurements to determine the percentage of muscles in the body. Even the strength of a handshake can provide information about the entire body strength. A grip strength meter (dynamometer) is also used for this purpose. With a simple strength test, the doctor can check how long it takes the patient to get up from a chair five times. Training is indicated if it takes more than ten seconds. A measuring tape can also provide information: If an adult's lower leg is less than 31 centimeters in circumference, this can be a sign of sarcopenia.

Simple exercises for everyday life

If the hurdle of going to the gym is too high for the patient, doctors advise building training units into everyday life. It helps to combine daily rituals such as watching TV with exercises. These must be individually tailored to the needs of the individual.

Example exercises for people over 60:

  • stand on tiptoe
  • take two steps at a time
  • Skip objects (stone, leaf) when walking
  • Balance exercises

Example exercises for people over 70:

  • Tandem stand (one foot in front of the other)
  • Tandem course
  • Squats
  • One-legged stance

(Source: Network Aging Research Heidelberg)

Protein-rich food supports muscle building

In addition to regular exercise, diet plays an important role: protein-rich foods support muscle building. According to experts, older people need around 25 percent more protein than younger people in order to maintain bone structure and muscles. 1 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight should be consumed daily. It is ideal to distribute the protein intake over the three main meals, because the body can efficiently use a maximum of 30 grams of protein per meal for so-called muscle protein synthesis.

Examples of how much protein is in different foods:

  • 1 egg: 8 grams of protein
  • 1 cup of yogurt: 4 grams
  • 1 slice of Gouda: 9 grams
  • 1 pork schnitzel: 33 grams

However, not only the amount but also the quality of the protein plays an important role. Whey proteins, which are an important part of milk, are particularly good. These proteins are high in leucine. The essential amino acid is important for building muscle. Leucine is also found in beef and poultry, salmon, peas and walnuts, for example.

Vitamin D is important for muscle metabolism

Vitamin D also plays an important role in muscle metabolism. In order to produce this, the body needs sunlight. Around 60 percent of Germans suffer from vitamin D deficiency in the autumn and winter months. In addition, the biosynthesis of the vitamin in the skin is delayed in older people. Experts therefore recommend taking at least 800 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day.

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Visit | 01/23/2018 | 8:15 pm