Muscular atrophy, the wearing down of muscle tissue, has various causes, including sedentary life, aging, arthritis and spinal cord damage. These conditions fall into two categories: disuse atrophy, in which the loss of muscle tissue is due to low physical activity; neurological atrophy, in which the nerve that connects to the muscles is damaged or dead. Ask your doctor or physiotherapist to help you create a personalized exercise program that allows you to gain muscle tissue.
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Disuse atrophy occurs in office workers as they perform very little exercise sitting all day. Sit on an exercise ball to incorporate new movements into your day. This will automatically tone your core, abdominal, hip, shoulder and back muscles. Also, the equipment to exercise, such as dumbbells, on your desk, and make a set when you have some time.
Exercises for older adults
Disuse atrophy is a natural consequence of aging, but that does not mean that you must passively accept the lost force. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests exercises such as squeezing a tennis ball to increase grip strength and doing chest press with small weights. In "Strength Training Benefits Elderly Participants," Dr. Wayne L. Wescott describes two studies he and his collaborators conducted with various types of strength training with elderly nursing home patients. In both cases, the study participants gained lean mass during a four-month training.
Multiple diseases, such as arthritis, can initiate atrophy from disuse because patients become inactive or spend a lot of time in bed. According to a 2002 study conducted by researchers at the School of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University, disuse atrophy begins within four hours after bed rest begins. The Arthritis Foundation offers ideas on how you can have a strong muscle surrounding the arthritic joints, and recommends a specific weight-lifting program for people with rheumatoid arthritis, a 12-week program of walking and water exercises.
Exercises for neurological atrophy
The most difficult muscle atrophy to treat is neurological atrophy, in which the nerves connected to the muscles die or are injured, but patient support groups commonly have ideas for exercises. For example, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation's Paralysis Resource Center describes how special types of assisted exercises for patients with spinal cord injuries, include cycling, treadmill walking and pool exercises, can restore muscle tone, stop osteoporosis, promote healthy general and restore some functions of the members.