Yes, absolutely. You can help prevent muscle loss as you age. In fact, you can actually reverse the losses and build muscle as you age.
There is a Real Fountain of Youth
There is no other form of exercise better suited to improve your health and return your youth than Resistance Training.
In fact, science has demonstrated that Resistance Training can actually reverse damage to our genes caused by aging. In effect, this restoration can make us genetically youthful again. In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes on Aging, it was found that resistance training literally does reverse the aging process. The study found that:
“After 26 weeks of resistance training the researchers identified 179 genes associated with age and exercise showing a reversal of their gene expression. This means quite literally that the resistance training was not only slowing, but also reversing the aging process at the gene level.”
Interestingly, the study used a training method similar to the one we promote here at BoomerMuscle. 3-5 Sets of each exercise. High reps. Lighter weights.
“Resistance exercise for each session consisted of 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each of; leg press, chest press, leg extension, leg flexion, shoulder press, lat pull-down seated row, calf raise, abdominal crunch, and back extension and 10 repetitions for arm flexion and arm extension.”
Loss of muscle mass due to aging is called “Sarcorpenia.” Your doctor has probably never even brought it up to you. In my opinion, that could be because he or she:
- Really doesn’t know much about it
- There are no standard tests available to detect or diagnose it
- It can’t be fixed with just a pill or a prescription
Meanwhile, sarcopenia is nearly an epidemic that can have a very serious impact on your quality of life. It’s estimated that more than 30% of people over 60 suffer from it. Physically inactive people can lose 3-5% of their muscle mass starting at age 30 — and it accelerates from there.
The main symptoms of sarcopenia are decreased muscle mass and strength. Additional impacts include decreased mobility, falls and fractures, decreased activity levels and fat gain from lack of activity.
Bottomline, sarcopenia robs us of our freedom. And as we age, we also face loss of bone mass due to osteoporosis, adding frailty to the list. Recent studies have shown that strength training can also control osteoporosis and may even help to grow new bone tissue.
So, we can beat these negative aspects of aging by following a simple plan:
- Exercise: Specifically, resistance training. You don’t have to go heavy or try to become a bodybuilder. You can adopt a light-weight, higher-repitition form of training that is highly effective at building muscle (more on this later).
- Eat better. Focus on getting enough protein in your diet. Eggs, lean meat, salmon, tuna, chicken, beans, yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese are among foods that are high in quality protein. You can also use Whey Protein supplements.
- Supplement Omega 3 fatty acids. They have been found to influence muscle protein metabolism, especially in aging adults. Try fish oil or flaxseed oil.
- Take Vitamin D. Studies have shown that Vitamin D and Calcium deficiencies are tied to decreased muscle and bone in older adults. The majority of adults in the U.S. are estimated to have serious deficiencies of Vitamin D.
If you are over 40, you should ask your doctor to review your hormone levels.
Men can have DHEA and Testosterone levels checked. Testosterone is the main muscle building hormone. Low levels can be supplemented by your doctor.
For women, hormonal balance can also have a direct effect on sarcopenia. Menopause is linked to reduced concentrations of a hormone called estradiol in middle-aged and older women. Again, your doctor can help to ensure your hormonal levels are in proper balance.
BoomerMuscle: dedicated to helping Baby Boomers build muscle
This site is chock full of articles on how to build muscle for older people. Please have a look around and check out a few of them. Here is a good example that gives an overview of a workout routine. There are many more articles on this site. Please see categories like: Build Muscle 50+, Men Building Muscle and Women Building Muscle.
For more on Sarcopenia, see this article from WebMd.