The impact of muscle loss as we age is in the news quite a bit. PWC personal trainer and group fitness instructor Karen Irvin is also a Senior Specialty Fitness and Mobility Coach.  She was only too happy to share her thoughts on muscle loss, the first of which is: it is never too late to work on your strength!

According to Karen, you can fight sarcopenia — the medical term for muscle loss due to aging — with certain practices that include adjusting your diet and activity level. After middle age, adults lose 3% of their muscle mass every year on average. This can limit a person’s ability to perform routine activities, increase the risk of falls, and affect longevity. If the imbalance between muscle growth and teardown comes with age, how can we encourage our bodies to not be resistant to muscle growth?

Karen’s tips:

Follow the old adage “use it or lose it”! Sedentary lifestyle is the top cause of muscle loss and weakness. Consistent movement is key to muscle growth and strength. Resistance training with weights and resistance bands does not require heavy loads to be effective; consistency is important.
 
Balance your unbalanced diet. Consuming insufficient calories and protein causes weight loss and diminished muscle. 25-30 grams of protein at each meal is recommended. Include a variety of vegetables for balance.
 
Work to control inflammation. Inflammation from illness or injury signals the body to tear down and rebuild damaged groups of cells. That effort is harder to balance as we age.
 
Your to-do list for building and maintaining muscle mass with aging:
 
  • Increase your protein intake
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Stretch before and after exercise
  • Use resistance bands and body weight exercises (such as push-ups and sit ups)
  • Lift light to moderate weights
  • Get sufficient rest and sleep (you’ll know it’s sufficient if you’re feeling good with no energy slumps)

 

In the short video below, Karen demonstrates a few exercises that can be beneficial for strengthening.