Losing muscle mass—and therefore strength and endurance—is normal as you age, but you can fight the process
By Katrina Caruso
Age-related muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia, can start as early as the age of 30. With every passing decade, we can lose as much as 5% of our muscle mass as the body is progressively less able to absorb protein and hormone levels drop. You may notice that over time, it’s becoming more difficult to climb stairs or to lift something that you once easily could. In those who had more muscle in their youth, symptoms may be slower to show.
The good news is that it’s never too late to work on building up your strength and rebuilding your muscle mass, even into your 60s and 70s. It may be a slower process and you’re not going to want to start Olympic lifting anytime soon, but picking up the dumbbells a few times a week, and increasing weight and the number of repetitions ove time, will do your body a lot of good.
Not sure where to start?
– If you have a gym membership, maybe it’s time to look into a few sessions with a personal trainer. He or she can show you how to do the movements correctly— especially with lifting weights, the most important thing is to do things correctly and safely—and work with your body and any limitations or specifications you may have. There are also some great fitness apps out there for you to find new workouts.
– Consider integrating more repetitions, with less weight, than you may have previously lifted. Do a set of 10 reps until your muscles get tired. It might be just one or two sets to start: that’s all right!
– As well, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting enough rest in between your workouts to give your muscles a break and time to recover. During the rest time is when your muscles will actually grow.
Going slowly, learning a movement correctly, and working your way up will allow you to get the most out of the workout without harming your muscles.
Finally, another important step in combating muscle loss is to eat well: strive to consume a balanced diet rich in lean proteins (which can include soy and other vegetarian protein sources), anti-inflammatory fruits and veggies (blueberries are very good for this), nuts, and healthy calcium sources such as dairy products and leafy greens.