The Importance of Monitoring Body Composition and Muscle Mass As We Age
Our bodies change as we get older, and we naturally become more prone to health issues and injury. It’s important to establish good habits like prioritizing fitness and nutrition to maintain our health as we age. Muscle mass, bone mass, and overall body composition can play an important role in the aging process. In this blog, we’ll cover the importance of monitoring body composition and muscle mass over time to help avoid developing major health problems.
Adults begin to lose muscle mass at age 30. The involuntary loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength is called sarcopenia. This condition is associated with higher risk of chronic disease, osteoporosis, injuries, and disabilities. It can also lead to a frustrating loss of independence in older adults, as lack of mobility, flexibility, strength, and energy to accomplish daily tasks is limiting.
Monitoring body composition like changes in muscle mass can help offset some of the challenges of aging. It’s possible to prevent and even rebuild muscle mass over time through routine weight training and consuming enough vital nutrients like protein and vitamin D. Studies have shown a reverse of sarcopenia in older adults who adopt a consistent resistance training regimen.
Our skeletal system provides structure, protection, and support for soft tissues, keeping our bodies standing upright and mobile. Bones are living tissues that produce blood cells and store minerals like calcium. They are constantly regenerated and remodeled through processes called resorption and formation. But after age 50, we start losing bone faster than we can build it. Due to this accelerated process of bone loss, women can lose up to 20% of their bone density within 5 years post-menopause.
Bone strength is determined by measuring bone density. When bones are healthy and strong, our bone mineral content measurement is high. When new bone forms too slowly, it can lead to osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue. Bone fractures, particularly in the spine or hip, are the most serious complications of osteoporosis. Hip fractures often are caused by a fall and can result in disability and even an increased risk of death.
Many people experience no symptoms of osteoporosis until they have a bone fracture. That’s why monitoring body composition becomes increasingly important as you age to watch for bone loss and assess risk for osteoporosis. Treatment includes medications, a healthy diet, and performing weight-bearing exercise to help prevent bone loss.
Monitoring Body Composition with DEXA Scans
Maintaining a healthy body composition primarily comes down to quality nutrition and building muscle and bone strength through exercise. Monitoring body composition is possible with a test called a DEXA scan. The scan lasts only a few minutes and is the most accurate method to analyze body composition.
Your DEXA scan results break down the percentages of lean muscle mass, bone density, and fat in your body. The test is also capable of detecting visceral fat, an important indicator of overall health. Monitoring body composition with routine DEXA scans will allow you to determine your risk for certain diseases like osteoporosis and sarcopenia, while providing an overall picture of your health. Understanding your baseline measurements can help you determine the current state of your body and if you’re at risk for any serious diseases. From there, you can use the results of your test to make lifestyle changes or take preventative measures to aid your health in the long-term.
Monitoring body composition is essential to caring for yourself and supporting your overall health as you age. Schedule a DEXA scan today.