Age-related muscle loss may be one of the greatest threats to our independence.
That’s because the hormones responsible for maintaining our muscles decline with age. So, building muscle gets harder with each passing year. Not to mention, many don’t eat enough protein to preserve muscle.
Put it all together, and we have a recipe for disaster.
The good news is, there’s an easy way to stimulate muscle growth, boost connective tissue strength, and improve bone mineral density…
Keeping you upright, strong, and moving well into your 70s, 80s, and beyond!
I’m talking about strength training. But before you dodge this recommendation, let me explain…
I will admit that I was even intimidated by this type of exercise. But I realized it wasn’t my physical strength holding me back… it was the excuses I conjured up in my head.
To be clear, I’m not talking about a gruesome workout where you’re bench pressing hundreds of pounds. Rather, I’m talking about light weights and consistency.
Even your own body weight can be enough!
In fact, I mostly use my body weight—plus a 15-pound body bar and a 10-pound kettle bell. And guess what? Something so “small” has completely transformed my body in just five months.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Take a look at some eye-opening research…
In a small study of older adults, ages 86 to 96, just eight weeks of resistance training improved their strength by a whopping 174 percent. They even added 9 percent more muscle to their mid-thigh region.
Not only that, but in another recent study in participants older than 75, researchers found that as little as one hour of weekly strength training can improve walking speed, leg strength, and the ability to stand out of a chair.
It’s never too late to get started
Research suggests we begin losing muscle around age 35—and the process really gains speed after 60. In fact, we start losing as much as three percent of muscle each year.
So, if you aren’t moving your body already, NOW is the perfect time to start. (It’s never too late!)
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that people ages 65 and older strength train two to four times per week in sessions lasting 30 to 60 minutes.
If you’re new to exercise, start slow. Use your body weight and slowly add more. (I often counsel patients to start with 1-pound weights. Because this is one instance where less can be just as good as more.)
For those afraid of injury, be smart. Find a way to perform your routine next to a wall or piece of furniture for support. Or—find a buddy who can help out.
And remember, remaining sedentary has far worse consequences. In fact, I’ve written about sarcopenia before. It’s characterized by progressive muscle loss that leaves you weak and frail—a condition that will only worsen by not moving.
You may even consider working with a physical therapist who can help you build a customized plan to reach personalized goals. They’ll also help educate you on proper form.
P.S. Not sure where to start? Check out my very own strength-training routine and follow alongside me! Then, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel (“The Dr. Fred Show”) and follow me on Instagram (@DrFredNYC) so you never miss a video in the future.
“How Old Is Too Old to Start Strength Training?” WebMD, 04/14/2023. (webmd.com/diet/news/20230414/how-old-is-too-old-to-start-strength-training)