Muscles-Use it or Lose it

Strength training is important at any age

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) I guess Jack LaLanne had it right. Muscle loss begins in early adulthood.

Becoming a 'couch-potato' at 30 will reduce your muscle mass with every bite of pizza.

In addition to or instead of watching soap operas, add some arm repetitions with little light weights during soap opera time.

"Put on your gym shoes and work"

Adults in the 50s can see their muscle strength really decrease more rapidy by around one half pound a year if they remain sedentary. If adults entering their 70s don’t engage in some sort of resistance or weight training, even the simplest tasks like sitting in a chair or climbing stairs become difficult.

Mark Peterson, Ph.D., a research fellow in the U-M Physical Activity and Exercise Intervention Research Laboratory, at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation review shows that after 4 or 5 months of progressive resistance training, an adult can add almost 2.50 pounds of lean muscle to their body mass and increases their overall strength by 25 to 30 percent.

Improvements in strength can be had by all ages. A good place to start is using your own body weight as the resistance. These exercises include squats, standing up and sitting down in a chair, Pilate's and yoga.

After these become easier, then progress to the gym or buy light weights for homeTo maintain one’s independence, they simply must be able to do these daily activities.

"Even though growing older is inevitable, engaging in physical activity and a regular exercise program can prove that age really is "just a number." Simple exercises and consistency can preserve muscle mass and even produce gains as we age", said Jen Werbeck, executive trainer at Wild Basin Fitness. 

The good news? According to this review, benefits can be seen through the 9th decade of life in people engaged in a progressive resistance training program.

Progressive resistance training means the amount of weight used, the frequency of the training sessions, and the length of training sessions is increased over time to accommodate an individual's improvements.

In other words, when you can do 5 minutes of your assigned exercises with 8 reps using 2 pound weights easily, you progress to 8 minutes of your assigned exercises with 10 reps using 4 pound weights.

You just keep building on your progress so your muscles continue to develop.

Exercises you can do using your own body weight include squats, standing up out of a chair, modified push-ups, lying hip bridges, as well as traditional exercises that progress through a full range of motion, such as Thai Chi or Pilates and Yoga.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 1, 2011
Last Updated:
April 5, 2011