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Muscle Strength as You Age

I tend to gravitate toward a lot of nutrition posts but I'd like to provide a well-rounded look at health and fitness for those of you reading my blog. With that said, I'll be adding a few new fitness-related posts to my roster, still following on my series choices of health and fitness for children, stress, and current studies. However, I'm diverting a little from those three to give you a very important post for those of you between the ages of 30 and 80.

The older you get, the more important it is that you maintain muscle mass and bone strength. Unfortunately, if you don't take the precautionary measures soon enough, it can be more difficult for you to regain optimal muscular strength and mass. Bone density is another topic that we will discuss at a later time.

Muscle mass is crucial to optimal mobility, balance, strength, and injury prevention. A condition called sarcopenia is an age-related condition that involves the loss of sarcomeres in the muscle. Sarcomeres are structural, contractile filaments that build up the muscle body. Typically this condition only occurs within inactive populations and can reduce the muscle mass by 5%-15%. That's a distinct change in muscle mass! Did you know that one week of inactivity for someone in their 20s can cause a decrease in 3.1 pounds of muscle? That muscle mass might be fairly easy to gain back for a 20-something but it's much more difficult, if not impossible, for a 70 or 80-something individual.

Have you ever noticed that there are some 80 year-olds that are still swing dancing and working out like a middle-aged person? It's most likely because they spend time every day exercising (gardening, keeping up with grandkids, lifting weights, etc.) to maintain proper muscle mass, thus avoiding sarcopenia.

Here's a study for you:

Strength can also tell us a lot about an individual’s chances of survival. [Brendan] Egan [Ph.D.] presents data from a study in which people’s chest and leg press strength were measured to arrive at a composite score of whole body strength. The pattern is quite revealing, showing the strongest one-third of the population over 60 had a 50% lower death rate than the weakest.

In order to maintain healthy strength, it is important to balance aerobics (cardio) and strength training. Resistance training will also help aid in bone mass density. Bands and light weights are great to add to workout routines for more at-risk populations. Here are a few exercises that you can try to maintain or increase muscle mass and strength. Perform each exercise slowly and precisely in order to get the most out of each exercise.