Sarcopenia is a term that describes a decline in muscle mass as a result of aging. This gradual loss of muscle tissue starts around 50 years of age and becomes more severe after the 60th year.
The elderly experience a loss of muscle mass, which directly leads to diminished muscle function. The elderly are at high risk of falling due to diminished strength and power, leading to decreased quality of life.
In this article, resTORbio will show you, What Are The Effects Of Aging On The Muscular System? Read to learn the way to protect your health.
Age-related Changes in Muscle Structure
Reduction in muscle mass (replaced with increased fat mass).
The decrease in the lower limb’s muscle cross-sectional areas has been shown to start in young adulthood and accelerate after 50 years.
Cross-sectional studies showed that older patients had an increase in intramuscular quadricep muscles adipose tissues that were approximately 1.7 times greater than healthy older people.
The study also showed an increase in intramuscular fat tissue in older patients who could not walk independently compared to those who could walk.
Muscle strength is reduced.
As we age, the total number of muscle fibers decreases dramatically, starting at 25 years old and increasing at an even faster rate after that.
This is likely due to a decline in muscle cross-sectional areas, particularly type II fast-twitch glycolytic fibers. This causes a decrease in muscle power.
One-year results of a study using the ICF framework to examine changes in physical functioning in older adults showed significant decreases in strength (both hip extensors and knee extensors), walking ability, mobility, sit/stand performance, upper extremity function, and balance performance.
Effects of Aging on Muscle Fibre Type and Size
Changes in Muscle Fiber Size
Poor muscle strength and decreased balancing ability due to aging can lead to falls in older people. Types IIA, IIB, and IIIB muscle fibers decrease in area percentage, fiber count percentage, and mean fiber area with age, while Type I fibers increase in number and area but not in size.
Morphologically, Type II fibers were smaller and flatter. Research suggests that older patients may have decreased muscle quality and less coordination.
The research was done to determine the best treatments for muscle fiber changes and reduce falls and fractures. A decrease in muscle fiber count contributes more to reducing total muscle cross-sectional areas than the loss of individual fibers.
Individual fast-twitch type 2 fibers have a smaller cross-sectional area, suggesting that force generation by fast-twitch types II is less important in older adults.
Motor Unit Number and Size
The number of functional motor units in an aged motor unit is reduced due to an increase in the cross-sectional area of the other units.
Motor unit remodeling can be achieved by selective denervation (especially type 2b fibers), followed by reinnervation using axonal spacing from juxtaposed internalization units.
Most of the literature suggests that muscle fiber loss can be attributed to motor neuron loss. It is possible to maintain muscle fiber denervation throughout life, although reinnervation seems more common in the elderly.
Data show that a 60-year-old has between 25-50% and 20% fewer motor neurons than a 20-year-old. The greatest loss is in the distal fast-twitch motor neuron.
The motor neuron has been lost. The fast-twitch fibers of denervated fast-twitch muscles attached to it have either been permanently denervated, undergo apoptosis, or are reinvested with another motor neuron.
It is most likely a slow-twitch motor neuron. This could cause the fiber to take on slow-twitch properties.
Age-related changes in joints
The bones in a joint do not contact one another. Your joints are cushioned with cartilage (articular cartilage), synovial membranes surrounding the joint, and a lubricating liquid inside your joints (synovial oil).
As you get older, your joint mobility becomes less flexible and stiffer because the amount and quality of the lubricating fluid in your joints decreases.
Also, the cartilage gets thinner. Also, ligaments tend to shrink and lose flexibility as a result of aging. This makes joints stiff.
Lack of exercise is a major factor in many of these changes in the joints. The fluid moves by the movement of the joints and the stress that comes with it. Inactivity causes cartilage to shrink, stiffen and reduces joint mobility.
Effects of Endocrine Changes on Muscle
As we age, these changes in our endocrine function can lead to sarcopenia.
- Insulin resistance has increased.
- Reduced growth hormone
- Reduced estrogen levels and testosterone
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Parathyroid hormone increased
What Are The Effects Of Aging On The Muscular System?
Osteoporosis, especially in older women, is a common problem. Bones are more susceptible to breaking. Compression fractures can result in pain and reduced mobility.
Fatigue, weakness, and decreased activity tolerance can all be caused by muscle weakness. Common joint problems include mild stiffness, debilitating arthritis (osteoarthritis), and even severe stiffness.
Gait changes, instability, loss of balance, and gait changes can increase the risk of injury.
Reflexes may be reduced in older people. These reflexes are usually caused by changes to the muscles and tendons rather than the nerves.
It is possible to experience decreased knee jerk and ankle jerk reflexes. Certain changes, like a positive Babinski reaction, can occur.
Older people are more likely to experience involuntary movements, such as muscle tremors or fine movements called fasciculations. Paresthesia is a condition in which abnormal sensations or weakness are experienced by older people who aren’t active.
Muscle contractures can occur in people who cannot move or don’t exercise enough.
Conditions that can lead to impairment of skeletal function
- Metabolic syndrome
- Chronic Obstructive Airway Disease (COPD).
- Congestive Cardiac Failure
- Chronic Kidney Disease
Physical activity can help
Regular exercise can reverse many of the age-related changes in muscles, bones, and joints. It is never too late for you to get active and reap the rewards.
Research has shown that:
- Exercise can strengthen bones and slow down bone loss.
- Muscle strengthening can help older people increase their muscle mass and strength.
- Balance and coordination exercises such as Tai Chi can reduce the chance of falling.
- As it slows down bone mineral density loss, physical activity can delay osteoporosis in later years.
- For maintaining bone mass, weight-bearing exercises such as walking and weight training are the best. It is possible to also benefit from twisting and rotational movements where the muscle attachments pull against the bone.
- Even if it isn’t weight-bearing, water exercise can still lead to increases in bone and muscle mass in older people than sedentary older persons.
Stretching is another great way to maintain joint flexibility.
Before you begin any new exercise program, consult your doctor. Your doctor, physiotherapist, or exercise physiologist will be able to help you create a safe and effective exercise program if you aren’t exercising for a while, have arthritis, or have been unable to exercise for some time.
You may be recommended to increase your calcium intake if you have osteoporosis. Sometimes, medication is necessary to treat osteoporosis.
Where can I get help?
- Your doctor
- Exercise physiologist
Important things to keep in mind
- Disuse accounts for at least half the changes in muscles, bones, and joints that are age-related.
- Recent research shows that less than 10% of Australians aged 50 and over-exercise enough to maintain or improve their cardiovascular health.
- Before you start any exercise program, consult your doctor.
Understanding the process and causes of muscle breakdown is essential to identify ways to prevent and slow down the aging process that affects muscle. We hope that our article can help you, which you should do today to protect and prevent the aging effects on the Muscular System.