As we get older, our bodies change. It’s one of the inevitabilities of life, as no one can outrun father time (even as a Personal Trainer). One factor that gets greatly affected by this change in our body is in regards to our muscle mass. As time goes on, unfortunately, we tend to drop in lean muscle mass.
For most people, the peak point where we have the highest amount, and highest quality of muscle mass, is between the ages of 20 – 40 years old. These are the years our bodies are typically operating at its highest function. This is out peak time to see weight loss and muscle gain. After this point however, due largely to a change in hormonal production as we get older, we begin to decrease in muscle mass.
After the age of 40, typically people will lose ~.5% of their muscle mass per year. For an example let’s say a person has 100lbs of lean muscle mass at the age of 40 (which is quite a bit of muscle to start with). By the time this person reaches 50 years old, they would have lost approximately 5lbs of muscle mass. This doesn’t seem like much, but we factor in the effects it would have on our metabolism (among other factors) it can have a big change on our body.
That number increases to ~ 1-2% per year through our 50’s. This once again can lead to big changes in a 10-year span. The individual who started with 100lbs at 40, and ended at 95lbs at 50, would drop another roughly 10lbs of muscle mass by the age of 60 (15lbs total). Once again, this would affect our metabolism, but it would also affect our strength and ability to perform our daily tasks.
Finally, this drop increases even further to ~3% per year after the age of 60. Which means in just 5-years our example would drop from about 85lbs of muscle mass, to about 73lbs. In 25 years, this person would have lost 27% of their muscle mass. Again, 100lbs of muscle mass is a lot, and many inactive people start at much lower levels than that. The amount of change that could have on the body is quite drastic.
Now, this isn’t a forgone conclusion. There are plenty of factors that can play a role into this such as your genetics, your environment, and training related factors. By regularly resistance training you can potentially reduce this effect. In fact, regular resistance training has been shown to not only reduce this loss, and can even help elderly individuals (defined as 75 years +) gain muscle mass.
Building muscle mass is more important as we get older to allow us to maintain a higher metabolic rate (this also helps in weight loss), increase bone density, and maintain strength in our body. Weight training becomes more important as we age, otherwise we are prone to much more sedentary lives that leave us feeling achy and tired.
(As an aside – If you’ve never done weight training before, consider a fitness trainer to help you learn the movements)
This is a good reminder for two key points.
1. It’s never too late to get started
Even if you’ve never done any sort of resistance training up until this point, it’s not too late to see the positive effects of resistance training. You can still make significant improvements and strength gains well into your later years. If you’ve never exercises previously, it’s even been shown that doing cycling can help improve muscle mass to a degree, but you would need to stimulate the muscle soon after with more stimulus.
2. The more you do now, can affect your quality of life later on
If you can get into good habits at younger ages, it will have a huge impact on your body later in life. Everything we do accumulates as we get older, so this doesn’t just mean training as hard as you can, it also means we need to train smart as well. Strengthening the body is one thing, but making sure it’s moving effectively and efficiently is another subject all together.
Resistance training doesn’t have to be anything flashy, or crazy. Hell, resistance training can simply be doing bodyweight exercises just to start with. As you become more confident, and able to perform exercises relatively well, adding in bands, machines, cables, and free weights would be the next step. For more assistance, reach out to a Personal Trainer to help show you how to do the exercises safely, ensure you are educated on how to do them properly, and to add extra guidance/accountability into your lifestyle to help make exercise a habit.
If you’re familiar with the gym, but just need more accountability or structure, Online Personal Training may be a good option for you as well.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure to do something! As an Edmonton Personal Trainer, one of the most common phrases I hear from clients is – “I wish I started sooner”
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