Sarcopenia is the medical term typically used to describe the gradual loss of muscle mass during aging.
Written by Dr. Gary Kawesch
What Is Sarcopenia (Muscle Loss Due to Aging)?
After the age of 30, most men will experience a gradual loss of muscle mass and strength. However, once men reach their 60s, muscle atrophy will accelerate with age, eventually leading to a decline in muscle definition, motor function, and balance. Unfortunately, for some men, accelerated muscle wasting can begin as early as their 30s and 40s. In the medical field, this age-related muscle loss is a natural medical condition known as sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia can cause severe muscle weakness, significantly affecting your ability to perform daily tasks and even simple things such as walking or climbing stairs. Typically, these symptoms of sarcopenia are most prominent in older men over the age of 60. For most patients in the elderly population, sarcopenia can substantially increase the risk for falls and fractures, which can also lead to increased surgeries and hospitalizations. And after some time, elderly patients will eventually require constant supervision and assistance to ensure their safety, prompting the need for long-term care.
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What Causes Muscle Loss in Men?
Aging is the most common cause of sarcopenia. Usually, physically inactive men have a greater risk of developing sarcopenia, although the condition can still occur in muscular men with more physically active lifestyles. Due to the inconsistency, researchers believe that several other factors may indirectly cause sarcopenia, which include:
- A reduction in neurological signals from the brain to the muscles to stimulate movement
- Reduced ability to convert protein and calories into energy to sustain muscle mass
- Lack of nutrition due to an unbalanced or unhealthy diet
- Certain chronic diseases (diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, and HIV)
Low Testosterone Levels
Men over 40 with low testosterone levels may also experience sarcopenia. As men age, their pituitary gland will begin to produce less growth hormone, eventually leading to a yearly 1% decline in testosterone production. Once testosterone drops to dangerously low levels, men will experience an exponential decrease in muscle loss, which can later affect stamina and muscle strength. If left neglected, low testosterone can proceed to accelerate age-related muscle loss, leading to decreased function.
Treatment for Muscle Loss in Men
Several ways exist to help men prolong the loss of muscle mass due to aging and prevent sarcopenia from prematurely occurring. However, the most effective and natural treatment for sarcopenia is regular exercise.
Incorporating resistance training or strength training exercises with weights or resistance bands into a daily regimen can help increase muscle strength and endurance. Resistance exercises can also help raise testosterone levels, further promoting muscle growth and function. In addition, regular exercise can also help the body effectively break down calories and protein into energy, allowing the body to remain active and maintain physical performance.
In some cases, physical exercise alone may not be sufficient to treat the age-related loss of muscle mass. Depending on their medical history, men experiencing symptoms of sarcopenia can utilize several medicated treatments to help them further prevent the loss of muscle mass as they age, which include:
- Testosterone supplements
- Growth hormone supplements
- Medication used in the treatment of metabolic syndromes such as obesity and hypertension
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is also an effective option to address growth hormone and testosterone deficiencies. Specific HRT treatments, such as testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), can provide men with certain medications to naturally stimulate their bodies into increasing testosterone and growth hormone production. In addition, testosterone replacement therapy can also improve bone density and promote lean muscle mass, which can help men maintain their exercise regimen and avoid muscle loss. Although these treatments can help treat men with sarcopenia when used separately, they are typically most effective when combined with regular resistance exercise.
At Renew Vitality, our experienced team of medical professionals specializes in various forms of HRT treatment to help men over 40 optimize their overall health and treat age-related medical issues such as sarcopenia. With our safe and effective hormone medications, we combine manageable exercise and diet programs to help change your lifestyle and retrain your body so you can avoid muscle loss and continue engaging in your everyday activities at peak performance. If you suspect you may be experiencing accelerated muscle loss or other age-related symptoms, please contact us at 1-800-785-3945 to schedule an appointment at any of our hormone replacement clinics in the United States.