Loss of muscle mass in seniors⇇ Return to: Your health
The bad news
Researchers estimate that, generally, those between ages 60 and 70 lose 12 percent of their muscle mass, with those at 75 to 85 it’s about 30 per cent.
Loss of muscle mass leads to an inability to perform daily activities like walking. That means you move slower and you lose your balance. In addition, loss of muscle means that you will have increased inflammation, insulin resistance, a drop in testosterone and estrogen levels, and chronic illnesses like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and pulmonary disease.
(Loss of muscle mass is called sarcopenia...)
The good news
Picture: Sandy Palais started weight training to build bone mass. But she built muscle mass as well. Read her success story here
New research published in the journal Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise finds older adults who begin lifting weights after 50 may win the battle against age-related muscle loss.
You have to do what we call resistance exercise. This can take a lot of different forms. Weights at the gym, stretchy bands at home, rising and lowering in a Pilates class, turn a walk into resistance training by walking up and down a hill. That’s all resistance training, and it all builds muscle.
Reverse your mindset
Exercise physiologist and researcher Mark Peterson says:-
"The time in which we say that older adults can't do more exercise is long gone".
Dr. Peterson analysed 39 studies and found that among more than 1,300 adults over the age of 50, muscle mass could be increased by an average of 2 kgs in five months!
Not only did that reverse any age-related muscle loss, it actually built lots of new muscle. Related research found the greater the intensity of weight-lifting programs, the more dramatic the outcomes. Adults who lifted the most weight boosted their upper and lower body strength by nearly a third. Two or thre times per week (working at a level that you are comfortable with) is ideal.
After exercising, don't forget to eat. Protein is essential.
"I feel strong," she says Palin. "I can lift the bags of groceries without too much sweat."