Strength Training and Muscle Mass As You Age

As people age their muscles begin to waste away, their bones become brittle and they become frail and weak. Although this I not a new phenomenon it’s name is new “sarcopenia”.

Over the next few years, sarcopenia is expected to become a huge health issue throughout the entire world. It can have a devastatingly negative effect on an aging person’s quality of life, especially the last ten to fifteen years.

Many elderly people are aware of the disabling effects osteoporosis can have on the strength and density of their bones. However most have not heard of sarcopenia or the crippling damage it could cause their muscles, bones and overall mobility. Often osteoporosis and sarcopenia progress during the same life phases, so as an elderly person begins to lose bone density they also lose muscle mass. Strengthening your muscles and keeping them active can actually help prevent bone lose. So goes the old adage, use it or lose it.

Elderly people often have accidents leading to bone fractures, with some even being fatal. These accidents are sometimes attributed to osteoporosis as the culprit. The real culprit however is usually sarcopenia which causes muscle weakness, especially weakness of the leg muscles.

People between the ages of 30 and 50 who have exercised regularly and maintained a healthy weight over the years still experience significant lose of lean muscle tissue. Maintaining the same weight over most of your life does not ensure your muscle weight has been sustained. As part of the aging process lean muscle weight is replaced with body fat, and although your weight at 50 maybe the same as it was when you were 30, your muscle weight most likely has decreased and your body fat has increased.

Once you reach the age of 30 your body will lose an average of 300 grams per year in muscle weight. At age 50 this increases to 500 grams per year. The steady muscle weight lose over your lifetime can eventually leave you unable to perform even the simplest everyday tasks and ultimately removes their mobility and independence.

As most people age they worry about having a heart attack or stroke, or contracting cancer or some other life threatening disease. Many people do not realize the real threat comes from becoming frail from loose of muscle mass or bone density. This threat eventually leads to their inability to take care of themselves.

There is a simple solution to reduce this threat. It includes an exercise program which includes 60% strength training exercises combined with 40% cardiovascular training. Elderly people should work with a Fitness Professional to determine the proper strength training that will help preserve muscle mass and strengthen bones. And to determine what aerobic exercise will help strengthen their heart and lungs to help slow the aging process which leads to sarcopenia.

There are many other benefits you can derive from strength and aerobic exercises. The stronger and more healthy you become the more active you will continue to be, enjoying many activities that you thought were something of the past. Your overall wellness and quality of life will improve, and you will have fun in the process.