Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass as a result of the natural aging process. The loss of muscle leads to loss of independence, balance, gait changes, and overall strength. It also makes simple, everyday activities much more challenging. As we age, our bodies ability to produce the proteins that the muscles need to grow decreases. When protein production falls, individual muscle cells get smaller.
This is why exercises such as strength training are so important. They help maintain and strengthen our muscles, particularly as we age — when we need it the most. Follow along as we explore the many benefits of strength training for seniors, including a video with specific exercises seniors (and beginners) can try at home.
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Declining Muscle Mass
The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) states that muscle mass starts to decline around the age of 40, and the loss of muscle tissue may progress more rapidly when a person reaches their 60’s and 70’s.
Depending on the individual, some lose 3 to 8-percent of muscle mass per decade. The loss of muscle mass involves both a reduction in the number of muscle fibers and a decrease in their size. The combination of fewer and smaller muscle fibers causes the muscles to atrophy or shrink.