"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Don't let muscle mass go to waste.

Muscular atrophy, the lack of muscle tissue, can emerge after a period of inactivity.

Age-related muscle loss, often known as sarcopenia, is a natural a part of aging. But after injury, illness, or an extended period of inactivity, muscle loss can occur rapidly, resulting in muscle wasting. The results are greater weakness, poor balance, and even impotence.

Signs of weakness

Muscle atrophy may end up from a disease that primarily affects the muscles, resembling polymyositis (an autoimmune inflammatory disease). Diseases that rob muscles of energy, resembling cancer and malnutrition, are other causes.

But muscle loss is commonly brought on by physiologic atrophy, which occurs when people don't use their muscles enough over an extended time frame. In addition to injury or surgery, osteoarthritis could cause physiologic atrophy, making it difficult to be energetic, or lead a sedentary lifestyle.

May result in muscle atrophy

  • Weakness within the upper limbs, including difficulty lifting your arms or reaching high objects
  • Difficulty opening a jar, holding a pen, typing on a keyboard, buttoning a shirt, or tying shoelaces
  • Muscle cramps and pain
  • Difficulty with balance

Muscle atrophy doesn’t all the time follow physical trauma. How downtime affects you will depend on your previous health, activity level, and muscle mass. “Men who are regularly active have a much easier time preventing muscle breakdown even if they've been off their feet for a while,” says Klein.

Still, it doesn't take long for the body to lose what it has gained. A study in Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine It found that older men who did eight weeks of strength training lost about 25 percent of their muscle gains after stopping training for 2 weeks.

“Suddenly stopping activity is like slamming on the brakes and can be quite stressful for the body,” says Klein. “Even mild muscle atrophy can cause some loss of strength and range of motion and make activity more difficult.”

Get a head start on recovery

Go ahead

Although you’ll be able to lose muscle quickly resulting from physiologic atrophy, it’s also possible to gain it back. It is best to seek the advice of your doctor. He can recommend an appropriate program to rebuild the muscle you've lost. This often includes physical therapy, strength training, cardio exercise, flexibility exercises, and a weight loss plan plan that may increase protein and calories.

There are many things you’ll be able to do yourself to extend and maintain muscle mass and strength. Almost any activity that works the upper and lower body can allow you to regain what you've lost.

Weight training is good and might include exercises with dumbbells and resistance bands. Other muscle-building exercises include rowing, swimming, walking, and cycling (stationary or regular bike). “Focus on exercises you can do safely and consistently, or better yet, enlist a trainer to create a special plan based on your limitations and needs,” says Klein.

Keep in mind that you will have to take small steps at first, and it could take time to get back to where you were. “But focus on the fact that you're moving forward,” says Klein. “Any activity is always better than no activity.”

Photo: © Paul Bradbury/Getty Images