Age and Muscle Loss
As years pass, muscle mass in the body shrinks. Strength and power decline.
This process begins earlier than you might think. Age-related muscle loss is called sarcopenia. It begins around age 35 and occurs at a rate of 1-2 percent a year for the typical person. After age 60, it can accelerate to 3 percent a year. The loss may be mild, moderate, or severe.
On average, adults who don’t do regular strength training can lose 4 to 6 pounds of muscle per decade. Most people don’t see the number on the scale going down, which means they are replacing muscle with fat. Fast-twitch fibers, which provide bursts of power, are lost at a greater rate than slow-twitch fibers. The result is a double whammy. You’ll become weaker and slower. Once muscle fibers die through the process of sarcopenia they are gone permanently and can never return or be revived!
Weak muscles hasten the loss of independence, putting everyday activities out of reach—activities such as walking, cleaning, shopping, and even dressing. Weak muscles hinder your ability to cope with and recover from an illness or injury. Disability is 1.5 to 4.6 times higher in older people with moderate to severe sarcopenia than in those with normal muscle mass.
Weak muscles also make it harder to balance properly when moving or even standing still. Loss of power compounds the problem. It’s not surprising that one in every three adults ages 65 and older falls each year. Some falls have dire consequences, including bone fractures, admittance to long-term care facilities, and even death from complications.
Strength and power training are critical for older individuals. People with stronger muscles are less likely to fall and if they do take a tumble, they’re less likely to be seriously injured.
Loss of muscle strength and mass aren’t the only factors that contribute to age-related declines in function and mobility. Mitochondria—the energy-producing "power plants" inside cells—also decrease in number and efficiency. Similarly, the nerve-signaling system that recruits muscle fibers for tasks deteriorates with age and lack of use. While it’s tempting to attribute all of these changes to aging alone, disuse of muscles plays a bigger role than many people suspect.
Age is no factor for the staff of Elite Personal Fitness and Training Solutions. Give us a call. Join our group of highly satisfied older clients who are restoring muscle function through strength and power training.