Weight Loss Guide

Regaining Lost Muscle Mass from Aging: Strength Training for Seniors

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When people think of muscles, young men such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and “Aquaman” actor Jason Momoa come to mind. However, strength training is for everyone, not just for actors in Hollywood.Seniors, in particular, will benefit from increased muscle mass through regular strength training.

Muscle Loss in Old Age

By the time you hit your 30s, you will start to lose muscle function and mass.This is called sarcopenia, a normal part of aging. Every decade after your 30s, you will continue to lose up to 5 percent of your muscle mass regardless of whether you live a sedentary lifestyle or regularly engage in physical activity. Most men can expect to lose about 30 percent of their muscle mass throughout their entire lifetimes.

The decline of testosterone, which stimulates protein synthesis and is responsible for muscle development, is one of the main possible factors why sarcopenia occurs. Testosterone levels in the body decrease with age due to the decline in testicular and hypothalamic-pituitary function.

The ability of the body to break down protein into amino acids also declines with old age. Protein plays an essential role in building muscles but, because of anabolic resistance, seniors may not get enough of the nutrient from their regular diets. People who are older have to eat more protein to maintain muscle mass. A previous study recommended that older adults eat 1 to 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Moreover, people who are older have to continue doing strength training to reduce muscle loss.

Weight Lifting as a Senior

Losing muscle mass is a normal part of aging, but people can avoid it through regular physical activity that involves strength training. Those who integrate strength training exercises into their routine reap multiple benefits, including decreased risk of slips and falls, reduced symptoms of chronic diseases, and improved longevity. Those to maintain healthy muscle mass also enjoy greater independence and overall better quality of life.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people over the age of 65 should do strengthening activities that target all major muscle groups at least twice a week. Yet, despite the benefits, not all seniors participate in strengthening activities to build their muscles.

Sarcopenia is natural and inevitable, but it can be reversed. In an analysis of 39 studies, a researcher found that muscle mass can be increased by 2.5 pounds among adults above the age of 50 within just five months of exercise. The effects of aging on muscle mass were reversed, and new muscles were developed throughout the experiments.

Lifting for Strength

While many people already know that seniors should exercise regularly, not all older adults are trying to build their muscles through strength training.There is still an assumption that strength training equals weight lifting, and it is only for muscular men. But, as studies have found, everyone can benefit from it, especially older adults.

Still, anyone who wants to start strengthening activities should be careful and avoid overexerting themselves. Seniors should also first consult their doctors before beginning any new workout.Typically, an assisted living center has its own fitness facilities to encourage seniors to exercise. However, in the beginning, people do not have to use any weights. They can do simple exercises first and then build the strength to lift dumbbells.

The repetitive motion of lifting your arms over your head 15 times for three for two to three sets will improve muscle mass. It is easy and perfect for seniors who have no experience lifting dumbbells because it only uses your own body weight. You can also remain seated and lift your knees toward your chest or lift your feet off the ground for a few seconds. These will work out arms, shoulders, back, legs, and calves.

Once you have become comfortable with the exercise, add weights. There are small barbells for seniors who are still at the beginning of their strength training.

It is safe as long as you are strong enough to lift dumbbells. The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg used to lift weights well into her 80s. She also did push-ups, planks, and squats. Of course, she had a fitness instructor who developed the workout and monitored her movements throughout to keep her safe. Any form of exercise can lead to accidents and injuries when not done correctly.

Seniors become frail as they grow older. It is a natural part of aging. However, they can counter the effect of time on their bodies by maintaining an active routine that includes strength training.

Mick Foley
the authorMick Foley
An aspiring Pro Wrestler, Mike loves working out in the gym and attending MMA classes. When not lifting weights, Mike will most probably be lifting his PS4 controller. He writes for Resistance Pro to share all that he has learnt.