Hard fact: we lose muscle as we age.
According to Dr. Peter Attia (whose information I am using in this article), researchers have explored numerous systemic, cellular, and molecular systems to determine why we experience a loss of muscle strength with age, and it appears to boil down to two major factors: muscle quality and neuromuscular innervation (your nerves).
The loss of muscle quality is inevitable. Muscle contraction becomes weaker. We accumulate oxidative stress-related DNA damage as we age, resulting in a decline in muscle mitochondrial function and lower mitochondrial density, ultimately leading to insufficient production of the ATP needed for muscle contraction. There is a change in the distribution of the type I “slow twitch” and type II “fast twitch” fibers that make up muscle.
Dr. Attia also states that another major factor contributing to muscle strength decline is the loss of neuromuscular innervation. The more a muscle is used, the more neuromotor connections it develops, which leads to improved contractile strength. The opposite is also true: muscles that are seldom used become less innervated. So, “use it or lose it.”
Don’t let this article sadden you! There is so much we can do so that we stay strong as we age and, you guessed it, diet and type of exercise matter.
The takeaway: keep exercising (especially weight training) throughout life. It is the very best weapon in our arsenal when it comes to fending off a deterioration in health and extending lifespan. Case in point: we’ve all heard of an elderly person falling, breaking a hip and it becomes, unfortunately, the beginning of the end. Stay strong!
If you’re a member of Vero Strength, prioritizing our strength workouts and eating at least .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, you are on track!
If you’re not strength training, it’s never too late to start.