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Leukopenia: How to Avoid Loss of Strength and Muscle After 50 – 04/07/2023

Leukopenia: How to Avoid Loss of Strength and Muscle After 50 – 04/07/2023

I’m 52 and when I’ve asked what my goal is for 20 or 30 years from now, the answer is only one: I want to be able to tie my shoes, get up off the couch on my own, and walk around without needing support. And if there’s one thing that can get in the way of that goal, it’s called sarcopenia: an enemy I remember every day to scare away the gym-going sloth.

Sarcopenia is a progressive, age-related loss of muscle mass and muscle function. From the age of 30, approximately, it is normal for a gradual decrease in muscle mass to occur, but sarcopenia is a more pronounced and accelerated loss that occurs in the elderly.

According to geriatrician Alberto Frisoli Jr., associate professor of cardiology at Unifesp’s Escola Paulista de Medicina, by the age of 70 we have lost about 30% of our muscle mass. “What’s more important is the loss of muscle strength and function,” says the expert. Frizzoli explains that the problem is not muscle size, but muscle strength.

“Think about the characteristics of an Ethiopian sprinter. He has little muscle mass, but a muscle with a lot of resistance.” And what happens when we lose our strength is precisely that we lose the ability to move and the ability to properly support even our body weight.

The good news is that sarcopenia is preventable, and muscle strength can be improved, even in older adults. So it’s time to start taking care of yourself:

Do regular physical activity

Physical exercise is one of the best strategies for preventing sarcopenia. Strength training, such as weight lifting, is particularly effective at stimulating muscles.

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But it’s not just a matter of building muscle: we have to think about strength, endurance, and strength. In this sense, even strength exercises performed with elastic bands, for example, bring benefits.

In addition, aerobic exercise also makes a difference. Preferably a low impact exercise such as walking and running. “Muscles and bones are like shocks,” Frizzoli says. “Between swimming, cycling, walking, and running, the latter two are the best options for this.”

Eat a well-balanced, protein-rich diet

Protein is an essential nutrient for building and maintaining muscle. Be sure to include protein-rich foods in your diet, such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts. Consulting a dietician can be helpful in ensuring a diet that suits individual needs.

And the doctor’s warning: “There’s no point in thinking that eating a protein shake will build muscle. It’s not. You have to exercise.” It is preferable to eat the necessary proteins from healthy animal sources (fish, lean meat, eggs, chicken, for example). Discuss with your doctor the need for supplements such as vitamins, if needed.

sleep well

Sleep is essential for muscle recovery and protein synthesis. Try to get a good night’s sleep by getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

Fighting obesity

One of the biggest enemies of muscles is body fat. According to the doctor, the ideal is to maintain a healthy weight (with a BMI, BMI, between 21 and 25). “It poisons the fat and inflames the muscles. It’s important to be aware of that.”