As an older adult, doesn’t it feel like the cards are stacked against you sometimes? It seems like every research study that comes out shows another way in which aging will make your life more difficult. Fortunately, we have some tips to help you handle the latest research regarding muscle mass and aging.
Research Shows Building Muscle Is Tougher with Age
First, let’s look at the bad news. Harvard Medical School just released a report that found that the average 30-year-old loses around 25 percent of their muscle by the age of 70 and 50 percent of their muscle by 90. And, these results are not due to inactivity. There are several factors that contribute to the muscle loss associated with age, and scientists are still unsure of what causes this.
One of the reasons why muscles are harder to come by when you get older is you have fewer nerve cells that send signals from the brain to your muscles. Also, your body has a more difficult time turning protein into fuel. Doctors also believe that illnesses and problems that are more common in older people, such as inflammation and hormonal changes, may play a role in the decreased muscle mass.
What You Can Do to Halt Muscle Loss
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic and Harvard recommend engaging in resistance or strength training to overcome the muscle loss associated with old age. Strength training is essentially using weight to resist the pull of gravity. The weight can be a variety of things, like elastic bands, your own body, weighted ankle cuffs, and free weights like dumbbells and barbells. As accidents can occur with free weights, it’s really important to follow safety precautions and it would be wise to have a health insurance policy to cover for any medical attention that is required as a result of your workout.
Building sturdier, stronger muscles is possible using lighter weights and doing more repetitions or heavy weights with fewer reps. Healthy adults should work out at least three days every week, and two or three of those days should feature strength training. Your current fitness level will dictate the sorts of results you experience.
You might begin building muscle in just a couple weeks if you are new to working out and start doing strength training three days per week. On the other hand, you will need to step it up and work your body closer to five times per week if you have been a regular at a yoga studio or gym for quite some time. You can also achieve similar results by using high-intensity interval training. HIIT, as it is commonly called, combines resistance training with the cardio benefits of running or cycling. Consistency is the key to success.