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Why we all need to build up muscle

If you’re over 30, there’s a high chance you’re already affected by muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia, or that you will be soon. Dr Juliet McGrattan explains how to rebuild your strength as you age, and reduce your vulnerability to associated health risks

USE THEM OR LOSE THEM…

SARCOPENIA? Sounds like a nasty rash! If this is your first reaction on hearing the term, you’re in the majority. Apart from medical experts, very few people could identify this common health condition by its proper name. Yet it’s something all of us will experience – men and women of all ages. In case you were wondering, the term comes from the Greek words sarc, meaning ‘flesh’ and penia meaning ‘not enough of’. This mysteriously named condition is, in fact, muscle loss. We may not give it a second thought in our 30s, 40s and 50s, but as we reach retirement age, it puts us at risk of falling and of losing independence. So what causes it and can we reverse any of its effects?

What you could be losing

Basically, after the age of 30, the body starts getting rid of its muscle. A little bit here and there – and so slowly that we don’t notice. Once we hit 50 we can be losing as much as 1% of our muscle mass every year. It happens whether we’re active or inactive (although it affects us more if we have a sedentary lifestyle).

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About Healthy Food Guide

We put the record straight on carbs (yes, you can and should eat them if you want to lose weight) - with our expert guide on choosing the right types and making clever swaps. We've also got everything you need for a healthy holiday, from time-saving beauty hacks to help you look and feel great while you're away to a rundown of the healthcare apps to trust. And our easy, light, delicious recipes will help you make the most of those warm summer evenings with friends…