We have all heard that exercise is good for us especially as we age. But at what age do we need to be concerned about losing muscle mass? Can you believe it is as early as your thirties? A sedentary life, between the ages of 30 to 80 can lead to a loss of muscular strength due to a reduction in muscular mass. Regular exercise can help increase muscular strength leading to more muscle mass.
“Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits. As part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should do multicomponent physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.” (2nd Edition of the Physical Activity Guideline for Americans, 2018 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.)
Resistance training some may think is only for younger people and leads to asking oneself, could I get hurt? Using weight machines is a great way to start an exercise program as it presents a lower risk of injury for beginners. Active agers should also incorporate machines to gradually increase their own weight lifting ability. You will gain the best results by choosing a weight that brings your muscles to fatigue between 6-12 reps. With proper instruction, using resistance training has great benefits which will lead to increase in muscular strength.
So we know exercising is important to our health, but what are the benefits besides increase in muscular strength to help slow down the biological aging clock. Some of the benefits include maintaining or losing weight, improvement to the cardiovascular system, osteoporosis, diabetes, memory, flexibility and balance to prevent falls. Just incorporating some type of exercise can help you prevent injury and/or illness as you continue to age.
I heard a commencement speaker tell a graduating class important thoughts to remember when they go out into the workforce. He mentioned many thought provoking ideas that graduates would normally hear but he ended with “you only have one body, so take care of it.”
It is always good practice to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. If you are given the “all clear” then remember the benefits of exercise to aging and hopefully make it a part of your daily life, so you may enjoy all that life can give to you.