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  • Writer's pictureViv Gallagher

Let’s talk about Sarcopenia and bone health…

Sarcopenia is the name given to age-related loss of muscle and strength. A powerful reminder of the move it or lose it cliche! Did you know that we start losing muscle mass in our thirties and that as we move into menopause and postmenopause our declining oestrogen levels also affect our precious muscles and our bone health? Menopause is the stage in our lives that we often start to notice changes in our muscles, joint and bone health along with changes in our nervous system as we lose the protection of oestrogen. Our muscle cells contain mitochondria organelles which is where energy is produced, as we age they reduce in size and number resulting in decreasing muscle size, tone and affecting our energy levels. The good news is that we can mitigate this decline and hold onto our precious muscles with a combination of regular strength training, getting the right nutrients and putting the right lifestyle tweaks in place…

We can effectively fight and reverse Sarcopenia by taking a multi pronged approach and implementing the following:

  • Regular Strength Training: Pilates Reformer is an extremely effective way to safely build muscle strength without placing excessive load on joints, making it a good option for those carrying weight or injuries. It works both the global (big muscle groups) along with the all important local muscles (core muscles that support the spine) Our TRX and Barre classes also have a strong strength component and they add variety to ensure your progression and keep you creating new neural pathways. Adding body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, planks and pushups will all help maintain your muscle mass and you can do these anywhere.

  • Walking and Aerobic Fitness: Sustained exercise that raises your heart rate, including aerobic exercise and endurance training, can also control sarcopenia. Studies found that five days per week of cycling, jogging or hiking increased muscle mass. Even if you can start out with 20 minutes of walking daily you will benefit and can gradually build up over time.

  • Improved Nutrition: We need the right nutrients to fuel our muscles, eating an anti-inflammatory diet has been proven to help prevent muscle loss and improve bone health. Studies have shown an increased risk in those with chronic disease, elevated inflammation markers and elevated blood sugar levels so cutting out the sugar and processed foods is a great place to start. Eating a plant rich diet that is high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and protein can all improve muscle growth in response to exercise. Vit D, K, calcium and Magnesium are all important too. As we move into the Winter months you might like to consider supplementing Vit D and if you are in Menopause a good quality Magnesium is important.

  • Sleep & Stress: Getting enough good quality sleep underpins everything! When we are not sleeping we are not healing and as a result this increases inflammation in the body. If you are not sleeping between the hours of 2am -4am you are missing out on the release of growth hormone which is needed for muscle and joint repair. There are many things that affect our sleep, our stress hormone cortisol if it's high at night, our Blood sugar levels, our gut and liver health, bluelight, alcohol and more! In addition to addressing these, the most important way to improve your sleep is to get outside morning light exposure into your eyes. (minus sunglasses) as this resets your Circadian Rhythm and ensures you have enough supplies of Melatonin, which is your sleep hormone to help you sleep at night. I am sure you are starting to see, we need to combine all the above strategies to grow and maintain our muscles, simply just increasing resistance training is not enough if we do not put in place the other lifestyle solutions.

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