If you are between 40 and 60 and have felt yourself getting weaker and unable to perform tasks involving lifting, you are not alone. As you get older your muscle mass declines. We have known about this for quite a while. It was starting to be noticed around the 1800s when life spans reached the point where this happened. We also were leaving agrarian jobs where more physical activity was required.
After age 30, we can lose as much as 8% of our muscle mass every 10 years, causing a potential 30% loss of our power and strength. This also attributes to accidents and falls. There is a way to maintain your muscle mass and even rebuild it even if you are past 70. The key is strength training. It will help you get more juice out of your muscles while putting less load on joints, so you have less risk of injury.
Many of us are sitting way too much. This shortens the front of your body muscles like hip flexors and chest muscles. Therefore, the corresponding muscles in the back of your body like glutes and upper back become weak. So, we need to target all our major muscle groups. We can do this with exercise and weight training.
Exercises that target big muscles like quads and glutes while engaging the core are best. Lunges, planks, leg presses, and step-ups work well here. Upper body exercises like push-ups and pull-ups involve all the major muscles. Bring in weights to increase the work. Lower weight is best. It is more beneficial to do more reps with lower weights than less with more. Start with 15 and work up to 30-45. Lift till you cannot do one more repetition. You have items around the house to use in case you don’t have access to a gym. Cans of food or bottles filled with water work well. Ankle and hand weights are inexpensive and available everywhere.
Strength train 3 days a week while filling the other days with aerobic work like walking or bike riding. Start out small and slow. Check out different strength exercises online. You will be amazed at how much stronger you will be!
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO