As we navigate through the demands of work or transition into retirement, our physical well-being often takes a backseat. Whether you are a dedicated working professional or an individual entering the retirement phase, it is easy to get caught up in work or family responsibilities, leaving little time for physical exercise. With this lifestyle, it could lead to a gradual loss of muscle mass and strength, which is also known as muscle atrophy. Regardless of whether you're in the prime of your career or enjoying your golden years, prioritizing muscle health is crucial for maintaining overall well-being.
What is muscle atrophy?
Muscle atrophy refers to the loss of muscle mass and strength. The condition can begin as early as the age of 30, especially if you are leading a physically inactive lifestyle. Did you know that people may lose 20 to 40 percent of their muscle and strength as they age? This decline in overall health, emphasizes the importance of maintaining strong and healthy muscles throughout your life.
The symptoms may vary depending on the underlying causes. One of the most apparent indications of muscle atrophy is difficulty in performing daily tasks and activities that were once effortless for you. Additionally, other signs of muscle atrophy include:
Factors of muscle loss
Whether you find yourself immersed in the fast-paced demands of the workplace or gracefully adapting to the transformative phase of retirement, there are various factors that can come into play when it comes to muscle loss.
Poor lifestyle habits: Spending long hours sitting at a desk or engaging in sedentary activities can lead to muscle degeneration over time.
Lack of exercise: Failing to engage in regular physical activities, including both cardiovascular exercises and strength training, can result in muscle loss.
Poor nutrition: Inadequate intake of essential nutrients such as protein and micronutrients can impair muscle health and hinder muscle repair and growth.
Aging: As we age, our bodies naturally undergo physiological changes, including a decrease in muscle mass. This decline can be accelerated by a lack of exercise and poor lifestyle choices.
Stress: Stress can take a toll and elevate levels of the cortisol hormone which can contribute to muscle breakdown. 
Muscles can gradually degrade without regular physical activities. However, the good news is that even once muscle atrophy sets in, it is often reversible through the combination of exercises and enhanced nutrition.
What types of workout can aid in preventing muscle loss?
It is never too late to start caring for your muscles and enjoying the benefits of an active lifestyle. There are suitable exercise tips that can help both elderly individuals and working adults maintain their muscle health effectively.
Suitable for elderly
Suitable for working adults
What other lifestyle changes prevent muscle loss?
There are other common lifestyle changes that can play a vital role in preventing muscle loss and maintaining optimal muscle health. Here are some key lifestyle adjustments that may be beneficial for you:
Regular exercise: Engaging in weight-bearing exercises can help to build muscle strength such as running, jogging, jumping, and dancing. It is recommended that adults aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Balanced diet: A balanced diet is essential for promoting muscle health. Ensure your meals include nutrient-rich food like lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
Increase protein intake: Lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, tofu, and tempeh are excellent sources of protein, supplying the essential building blocks for muscle repair and growth.
Stay hydrated: Drink an ample amount of water throughout the day to support muscle function and prevent dehydration, which can affect muscle health.
At times, healthcare professionals may suggest considering the use of supplements to support your health. These are specialized supplements available that provide targeted nutrients, promoting muscle growth and improving overall well-being. Calcium Beta-Hydroxy-Beta-Methylbutyrate Monohydrate (CaHMB) is an excellent example of a supplement that offers various benefits, including:
Enhancing muscle strength and building muscle mass
Improving body balance and stability
Speeding up the recovery process for muscles
It's important to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before adding any new supplements to your regimen to ensure they align with your individual needs and health considerations.
Check your muscle health with the 'Stand-Up Test'
If you're concerned about your muscle health, there is a simple yet effective way to assess it—the 'Stand Up Test'. This test serves as a valuable tool in evaluating your lower body strength and balance. If you encounter challenges or significant difficulty during the test, it may indicate the need to focus on enhancing your muscle strength and balance through targeted exercises or by seeking guidance from a healthcare professional or a fitness expert. Regularly performing this test allows you to monitor your progress and ensure your muscles are in optimal condition for daily activities and maintaining mobility.
Muscle atrophy Information | Mount Sinai - New York. (n.d.). Mount Sinai Health System. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/symptoms/muscle atrophy#:~:text=Muscular%20atrophy%20is%20the%20decrease
Premier Health. (2017, February 5). Beware High Levels of Cortisol, the Stress Hormone. Premier Health. https://www.premierhealth.com/your-health/articles/women-wisdom-wellness-/beware-high-levels-of-cortisol-the-stress-hormone
Cleveland Clinic. (2022, January 21). Muscle Atrophy: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22310-muscle-atrophy