Science Explains: Why the Body Gets Weaker With Age

Growing OldGrowing old is not something a lot of people want to look forward to, except probably madly-in-love couples. Otherwise, beauty treatments which promise “a youthful, beautiful glow” wouldn’t exist. But if there’s only one accepted truth about aging, it’s the fact that people grow weaker with age. This is where assisted living services and facilities come handy.

It may sound ironic to an extent since maturity often exhibits a sense of improved strength and wisdom. But the body’s weakening due to age as a scientific explanation behind it.

Aging Muscles

Rarely do you see old people lifting heavy weights, or even being able to nudge it. It’s because of a natural process known as sarcopenia, which appears at around 40 years of age and skyrockets after the age of 75. Sarcopenia is literally the gradual loss of muscle tissue with age.

A study by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center explains sarcopenia as a result of several processes at work. It occurs when calcium leaks out from a group of proteins in the muscle cells, which ultimately limit the muscles’ ability to contract. Scientists were able to discern the process by observing mice, while also concluding that what happens during sarcopenia is largely similar to those in muscular dystrophy (progressive wasting and weakening of the muscles).

The same team is also purportedly testing a cure for sarcopenia. Named as S107, the experimental drug is designed to explicitly prevent the calcium leakage that causes muscle tissue loss. Old mice were given the drug and were observed for four weeks. During that time, the subjects exhibited improved muscle force and even exercise capacity, running farther and faster even in unassisted exercise. The improvement in the animals’ muscle strength was as much as 50 percent.

Weakened Bones

As you may know, your skeleton acts as your body’s frame. Without it, you wouldn’t have a shape. But aging also takes a toll on bone strength, and for obvious reasons. Bone density gradually decreases, causing the bones to become more brittle. At times, they even shrink because weakening bones also become smaller and/or shorter due to constant degradation.

Combine this with weakened muscles, and you have the body of a frail senior citizen. Here’s to hoping that the explanations stated above help proliferate better-informed health care for the elderly since their bodies are not as spry as they used to be.