9 Key Reasons You’re Losing Muscle Mass Over 50

9 Key Reasons You're Losing Muscle Mass Over 50

Your body changes naturally with age. The loss of muscle mass is one of the most obvious changes. Women over 50 are more likely to go through this change, which is known as sarcopenia. 

When you have sarcopenia, you experience a reduction in muscle mass, strength and function. This loss is not just about having loose skin and arms; it also makes it harder to do daily things like walking. This can set off a chain of effects that make it harder to live a full life, such as moving more slowly and losing your balance.

It is normal to lose muscle mass after age 50, but there is something you can do about it. However, you also need to know why you are losing muscle mass. 

So let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you may be losing muscle mass and also explore what you can do to preserve and regain muscle strength.

What is Sarcopenia?

Sarcopenia is when you lose muscle mass and strength as you get older. It’s common for women over 50. As you reach middle age, you might lose about 3% of your muscle strength every year. This makes it harder to do everyday things. You might notice it’s harder to do things like carry groceries or climb stairs. 

Sarcopenia happens when the signals for building and breaking down muscles are off. In a healthy body, growth hormones and enzymes that break down proteins work together to keep muscles strong as they grow, get stressed, break down, and heal.

However, as you age, these growth signals are less effective in your body. When this happens, the balance shifts toward losing muscle. 

But you can fight sarcopenia by eating well and working out. It is possible to keep your muscles strong by doing strength training and eating protein. 

So if you’re feeling weaker, remember that there are ways to stay strong and active.

Why You’re Losing Muscle Mass Over 50

It is normal for our bodies to change as we get older. One big change that many people notice is that their muscles are getting weaker and smaller. 

So, if you’re noticing a decrease in muscle mass or wondering why it’s happening, you’ve come to the right place. Let us look into the reasons why you are losing muscle mass over 50.

1. Aging

Women over 50 lose muscle mass because of a number of age-related factors. 

First, as you get older, your body makes less growth hormone and testosterone, which slows down muscle protein synthesis. 

Furthermore, the body becomes less effective at absorbing and using dietary protein, which makes muscle loss even worse. 

The inflammation and oxidative stress that come with getting older can also make you lose muscle. 

Together, these things make it more likely for people to lose muscle mass slowly as they get older.

READ ALSO: The Art of Mindful Aging: What You Should Know

2. Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes can play a big role in muscle decline for women over 50. Our bodies make less estrogen and growth hormones as we get older. These hormones help us maintain our muscle mass and strength.

Women’s estrogen keeps muscles healthy by increasing protein production and decreasing muscle breakdown. During menopause, when estrogen levels drop, women may lose muscle mass and strength.

In the same way, growth hormone is important for building and repairing muscles. Our bodies make less growth hormone as we get older. This can make us lose muscle and take longer to recover from exercise or an injury.

Along with weight gain, changes in hormones can also affect metabolism, causing the body to gain fat and lose muscle. 

3. Sedentary lifestyle and muscle atrophy

A sedentary lifestyle, where you’re not very active, can lead to muscle decline in women over 50. When you don’t use your muscles much, they can start to shrink and weaken, a condition called muscle atrophy.

In essence, when you use your muscles less, your body thinks it doesn’t need them as much. So, it starts breaking them down. Over time, this can make it harder to do everyday activities and can even lead to health problems.

Muscle decline from a sedentary lifestyle can also be linked to other issues like reduced flexibility and mobility, which can increase the risk of falls and injuries.

To prevent muscle decline, it’s important for women over 50 to stay active. That doesn’t mean you have to run marathons, but even just walking, swimming, or doing simple exercises can help keep your muscles strong and healthy.

4. Poor nutrition 

Your diet plays a crucial role in maintaining muscle mass. Poor nutrition can contribute to muscle wasting, especially in individuals over 50. 

A diet lacking in adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals can hinder muscle protein synthesis and impair muscle recovery. 

Additionally, insufficient calorie intake may deprive your muscles of the energy they need to maintain their mass. 

Get enough high-quality protein from foods like lean meats, fish, eggs, and legumes in your diet to stop muscle loss. 

A well-rounded diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will also provide the necessary nutrients for optimal muscle health.

READ ALSO: Top Nutrition Tips to Support Healthy Aging in Women Over 50 

5. Lack of resistance training

Resistance training, also known as strength training, is crucial for preserving and building muscle mass, especially as you age. Unfortunately, the lack of resistance training is a common reason why individuals over 50 experience muscle loss. 

Engaging in regular resistance training exercises, such as lifting weights or using resistance bands, helps stimulate muscle growth and prevent muscle atrophy. 

You should do both compound exercises (which work several muscle groups at once) and isolation exercises (which focus on one muscle group at a time) as part of your workout routine.

6. Chronic illnesses and muscle mass decline

Certain chronic illnesses can contribute to muscle mass decline in women over 50. Conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can all affect muscle health. 

Muscle loss can happen because of these illnesses because they cause more inflammation, less physical activity, or side effects from the medicines used to treat them. 

It is important to take good care of your chronic illnesses and work closely with your doctor to keep your muscle mass as high as possible. 

Additionally, seeking guidance from a physical therapist or exercise specialist can help you develop an exercise program tailored to your specific needs.

7. Medications and their impact on muscle mass

Some medications can deplete muscle mass, which can lead to muscle loss after age 50. 

For instance, taking corticosteroids for a long time, which are often prescribed for asthma or arthritis, can break down muscle protein and make muscles weak.  

Additionally, statins, used to lower cholesterol levels, have been associated with muscle pain and weakness in some individuals.

 If you think that the medicines you are taking are affecting your muscle mass, you should talk to your doctor about it right away. 

They might be able to change your medicine or suggest other options that will have less of an effect on your muscles.

8. Stress and its effect on muscle health

Chronic stress can have a detrimental effect on your overall health, including your muscle health. 

When you’re under prolonged stress, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol, which can promote muscle protein breakdown and inhibit muscle growth. 

High levels of stress can also make it hard to sleep, which can make muscle loss even worse. 

Stress can hurt your muscles, but you can lessen its effects by learning how to relax, working out regularly, and doing things you enjoy. 

You should take care of yourself and deal with stress in a healthy way if you want to keep your muscle mass.

9. Sleep and muscle recovery

Adequate sleep is essential for muscle recovery and growth. During sleep, your body repairs and rebuilds muscle tissue that is damaged during exercise or daily activities. 

Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can hinder this recovery process, leading to increased muscle breakdown and decreased muscle protein synthesis. 

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to optimize muscle recovery. 

Setting a regular sleep schedule, making a relaxing bedtime routine, and making sure your bedroom is a good place to sleep can all help your muscles stay healthy.

READ ALSO: 20 Amazing Sleep Products For a Good Night’s Rest

How to Prevent Muscle Loss Over 50  

9 Key Reasons You're Losing Muscle Mass Over 50 | Preventing muscle loss

There are several things that can be done to stop muscle loss and keep muscle mass after age 50. These tips will help you keep your muscle strength and get it back:

Strength training and muscle-building exercises

Strength training is crucial for preserving and building muscle mass. Focus on all of your major muscle groups when you do strength training exercises once a week. 

Try to do two or three sessions a week, and make sure you have enough time to rest and recover between them. If you want to build muscle, slowly make your workouts harder and more intense. 

If you are not used to resistance training, you might want to work with a certified personal trainer to make sure you use the right form and technique.

Nutritional tips to support muscle growth

Proper nutrition is vital for supporting muscle growth and maintenance. Eating enough protein is important because it gives your muscles the building blocks they need to grow and heal. 

Aim for approximately 0.8–1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Spread out your protein intake throughout the day by eating foods that are high in protein at every meal and snack. 

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats are some of the most nutrient-dense foods that are high in vitamins and minerals. 

Stay hydrated and consider consulting with a registered dietitian for personalized nutrition advice.

READ ALSO: Top Nutrition Tips to Support Healthy Aging in Women Over 50 

Lifestyle changes to promote muscle mass retention

In addition to exercise and nutrition, certain lifestyle changes can help prevent you from losing muscle mass.

Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as these habits can negatively impact muscle health.

Do things like walking, gardening, or taking the stairs throughout the day to stay active. These low-impact activities keep muscles toned and are good for your health in general. 

Make it a priority to engage in stress-relieving activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to prevent muscle damage from stress.

Seeking professional help and support

If you’re experiencing significant muscle loss or struggling to regain muscle mass, don’t hesitate to seek professional help and support. 

Consult your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions contributing to your muscle loss. 

They may refer you to a physical therapist or exercise specialist who can develop a personalized exercise program tailored to your needs. 

You can also get support and advice from fitness and healthy aging-related online communities and support groups as you work to keep or gain muscle mass.

Closing Thoughts

Losing muscle mass over 50 is a common concern, but it’s not an inevitable part of aging. 

As you get older, you can maintain your strength, mobility, and overall health by learning why you lose muscle mass and using techniques to keep it and gain it back. 

Focus on doing resistance training regularly, eating right, and making changes to your lifestyle that will help your muscles stay healthy. 

Always listen to your body and get help from a professional when you need it. 

You can fight the effects of getting older and have a strong, healthy body well into your golden years if you are determined and take the right steps.

♡ Love ♡,


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About Author

Schellea Fowler

Schellea Fowler

Schellea Fowler, the visionary founder of Fabulous50s, brings over three decades of small business leadership and expertise to her legacy. Not only has she excelled personally, but she has also become a mentor, generously sharing her wealth of experience with emerging entrepreneurs.

After retiring at 50 in 2016, Schellea’s commitment to continuous growth led her to pursue additional qualifications. A qualified fitness instructor, she is presently continuing her master trainer program, specializing in exercise for older adults. Through Fabulous50s, Schellea remains devoted to her vision of empowering and inspiring women to embrace and celebrate their current stage of life.

Her additional qualifications include: Fashion Styling from the Australian Style Institute, Advanced Personal Colour Analysis from AOPI,  and Meditation Teacher Training from Yoga Coach.

Above all, Schellea’s mission is simple yet profound: to support women in embracing the aging process with confidence and grace.

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Disclaimer: The content presented here is entirely unsponsored, and all opinions expressed are solely mine. In instances where I express admiration for a product, if there is an affiliate link, I may include it. However, it is crucial to note that I will never prioritize seeking products that offer commissions over providing genuine reviews.

Please be informed that certain links within the content may be affiliate links. Should you choose to click on these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This does not entail any additional cost to you, and your decision to use these links remains entirely at your discretion.

Moreover, it is imperative to recognize that any information disseminated through the videos or any type of content is intended solely for general entertainment and educational purposes. Prior to embarking on any exercise regimen or program mentioned, I strongly advise consulting with your physician/doctor. Engaging in any exercise is undertaken at your own risk.

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