Did you know that we all silently start losing muscle mass after age 40? And that often, that loss goes unnoticed until it reaches an advanced stage?
That’s important, because age-related muscle loss can lead to a host of ills, including impaired balance, an increased risk of metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, and falls.
And in older adults, muscle loss can contribute to frailty, and a loss of independence.
Some time ago, I stumbled across a study in a nursing journal that looked at reasons for admission to long-term care and nursing homes. One of the striking findings?
For a significant minority of the women — I think it was around 25 per cent — the culprit was lack of sufficient strength in the quadricep muscles to get on and off of the toilet unaided. (I’d link to the study, but I’ve never been able to locate it again, unfortunately.)
But enough bad news. There are things we can do to help preserve and even improve muscle strength, and it’s never too late to start.
A big thank-you to the interviewees who generously shared their experience and expertise:
- Dr. Maureen Ashe, PhD, associate professor in the department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia and an investigator at Vancouver Coastal Health’s Centre for Hip Health and Mobility.
- Dr. Kirsten Bell, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Waterloo’s department of kinesiology in Waterloo, Ont.
- Clara Fitzgerald, director of the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging at Western University in London, Ont.
- Gwen Hood
- Dr. Dawn C. Mackey, PhD, an associate professor in the department of biomedical physiology and kinesiology and director of the Aging and Population Health Lab at Simon Fraser University; SFU scholar with the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research; and core member of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, which is affiliated with the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.