As we age, our muscle mass decreases at surprising rates. An average male who weighs 180 pounds might, after age 60, lose as much as 10 pounds of muscle mass over a decade. But can we turn that around? Absolutely!
In fact, new research published in the journal Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercises, 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. It could be lifting weights, it could be stretchy bands, but the key is to stretch the muscle. When you stretch a muscle to the point of straining it, as is the goal during weight lifting, you set in motion the body’s natural muscle-building response. The muscle has to adapt to the damage and build itself up to be prepared for the next weightlifting assault. In this way, muscles build fiber and actually increase in size.
The time in which we say that older adults can’t do more exercise is long gone! Muscle strength and balance help prevent falls, one of the most common reasons seniors end up in the hospital. For sedentary adults who resolve to take up weight lifting, start slowly. You could actually begin by simply getting in and out of a chair. The ability to stand up out of a chair is much more compromised after the age of 65 if adults don’t take up weight lifting.
And, after exercising, don’t forget to eat. If you don’t, muscles could actually get beaten down and not have the building blocks to get bigger and stronger. Protein is essential. Your best bets are chicken, fish and nuts like pistachios, walnuts and almonds.