MOVE IT OR LOSE IT:PREVENTING MUSCLE LOSS
Did you know that we start to lose
muscle from as early as 40 years
old, with an 8% drop in muscle massevery 10 years? After the age of 70, the
rate almost doubles to 15% each decade.
With the fast-ageing population in
Singapore, sarcopenia — a condition
that refers to progressive loss ofskeletal muscle mass and function —
and its effect on daily activities is an
increasingly important health issue. If
left unaddressed, sarcopenia can lead to
loss of independence arising from falls
“As muscle loss progresses, older
people may reduce their physical
activities which can lead to their muscles
being more and more deconditioned
(loss of muscle tone and endurance).
This increases the risks of falls and
fractures,” says Associate Professor
Melvin Chua, Senior Consultant and
Head, Department of General Medicine
Muscle is vital for overall health. It
helps to maintain our body’s structure,
movement, balance, and posture. We
need muscles in order for us to be able
to exercise and carry out daily activities.Muscle loss in our lower limbs may
also result in the elderly having greater
difficulty in performing simple everyday
tasks, such as climbing the stairs, lifting
objects, and even getting up from a
chair. Sarcopenia could lead to slower
recovery from illnesses, leading to
increased hospitalisations and frailty.
However, muscle weakening is not
experienced by the elderly alone. While
losing muscle is part of ageing, it also
affects people who have a sedentary
lifestyle (being physically inactive) for
extended periods of time. Working from
home these days and reduced physical
activity due to the restrictions brought
on by the pandemic can lead to muscle
“Muscle strength is one of the
key indicators of our overall health.
When you lose muscle, you may facea higher risk of disability and loss of
independence, as well as physical
fatigue and decreased immunity. Thus,
it’s important for us to start taking active
steps to build muscle strength,” explains
Associate Professor Chua.
While we can’t reverse the natural
ageing process, we can slow down
muscle loss with balanced nutrition and
exercise to build up our muscles, which
also strengthens the bones and tendons.
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