As we age, our bodies go through a variety of changes. This includes changes in our body composition, or the proportions of fat, muscle, and bone in our bodies. It’s important to have an understanding of body composition and how it changes over time. Here’s what you need to know as far as body composition and aging are concerned and how it relates to overall health.
Impact of Aging on Body Composition: Lean Muscle and Fat Stores
As you age, your body composition changes, mostly due to the gradual loss of lean muscle mass and bone density. This natural process is called sarcopenia, and it can begin as early as in your 30s. Simultaneously, your body collects and stores more fat, as aging is linked to an expansion in adipose tissue. As a result, the ratio between fat and muscle mass tips in favor of fat—especially if you’re not staying physically active.
Gender is an important factor to consider when discussing body composition and aging, as men and women lose muscle at different rates. Factors such as hormone levels and dietary habits also play a role. Sufficient protein intake, regular physical activity, and regular strength training all play a role in maintaining and increasing lean muscle.
Positive Contributions of Healthy Body Composition to Overall Health
While having a healthy body composition isn’t a guarantee for good health, it makes an enormous and positive contribution. A higher muscle mass results in a higher metabolic rate, which helps boost energy levels, burn fat and calories, and support good health. Higher muscle also improves functional muscle performance, which helps with mobility and daily functioning. Furthermore, healthy body composition helps maintain optimal body weight and supports a strong, healthy skeleton system.
The Importance of Monitoring Body Composition
Beyond understanding how aging impacts body composition, it’s important to monitor it throughout your life. Knowing the ratio between fat, muscle, and bone helps you evaluate your health, adjust your diet, and become aware of any medical issues. Furthermore, monitoring body composition over time helps you develop and maintain healthy lifestyle habits as you age.
It’s never too late to start paying attention to body composition. Take some time to learn about your body, assess your nutrition and physical activity habits, and keep tracking your progress as you age. With the right lifestyle habits, you can maintain a healthy, balanced body composition and support your overall health and wellbeing.