Aging and Muscle Loss

To those who know me, this article from the VA is near and dear to me.

Aging can come with some great benefits, like wisdom, experiences and memories. But one challenge can include muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia. Losing strength as you age can make daily tasks harder and cause you to become less independent. Can it be stopped?

By keeping your muscles strong and able, you can stay independent longer and continue doing the things you love without needing much help from others.

Things that accelerate muscle loss

As you age, your body can change in ways that surprise you. One of the most noticeable changes is weakness and less ease of motion. Your lifestyle and overall health play a key role in how fast those changes occur. Factors that can increase muscle loss include:

  • Inactive lifestyle
  • An unbalanced diet, low in proteins
  • Inflammation or swelling
  • Medical conditions that cause muscle loss

You can control many of the factors linked to muscle loss. Managing your health conditions and making the right lifestyle changes can help you build and keep your strength.

We can’t stop ourselves from aging, but we can slow down some of its effects. While increased physical activity is important to maintain your overall health and well-being, engaging in strengthening exercises at least two to three times each week is your best defense against muscle loss. By continuing to use your muscles, you’ll be working to keep them strong.

You don’t need expensive exercise equipment, a personal trainer, or even a gym membership. Common forms of physical activity and exercise that can help build strength and keep you mobile include:

  • Walking, stair climbing and biking
  • Strength training with resistance tubes and bands
  • Yard work (mowing, gardening and planting)

If you’re unsure about starting, try TeleMOVE! It’s a virtual 90-day program that focuses on nutrition, physical activity and behavior changes. Consider one of the many varieties of yoga that may also help to maintain muscle strength as well as relaxation and meditation practices.

Blake Hyfield is the post service officer for the local VFW and American Legion posts. He can be reached at