On average, we lose 5 percent of our muscle mass every 10 years after the age of 35, if we do nothing about it. Muscle wasting is also known as sarcopenia.
The precise causes of sarcopenia are not fully understood. Lack of exercise, poor nutrition, hormonal changes, and general inflammation are potential causes. Some of those causes can be addressed, but there may simply be some inherent consequences of aging that cannot be fully remedied.
Sarcopenia is often not noticed until it is too late, when we slip and fall or begin to have difficulty getting out of a chair. Loss of muscle mass affects the maintenance of functional movement capabilities that help older people maintain independence.
By engaging in regular resistance training and following a solid diet that includes adequate amounts of protein, we can prevent most of the age-associated loss of muscle mass. Although we may not be able to turn back the clock, we can slow down muscle loss.
Strength training is a method of improving muscle strength by gradually increasing the ability to resist force through the use of free weights, machines, or the person’s own body weight. Strength training sessions are designed to impose increasing resistance, which in turn stimulates the development of muscular strength to meet the additional demand.
Training hours for seniors:
Weight training should begin with light weights, using a level that is comfortable to lift at the beginning of the workout, and increasing repetitions and weight as muscles get stronger.
Most experts unanimously agree on the following training program:
• Frequency: Two or more days a week
• Intensity: Older adults should begin a resistance training program at a light intensity, ie, 40%-50% of one repetition maximum or 1-RM. Intensity can be built up gradually depending on individual progress. Moderate intensity is 60%-70% of one repetition maximum or 1-RM. When 1-RM is not measured, intensity can be prescribed as: light (1-5), moderate (5-6), and vigorous (7-10) intensity on a scale of 0-10.
• Write: Progressive weight training program that incorporates 8 to 10 exercises that engage the major muscle groups with 1 set of 10 to 15 repetitions each. Stair climbing and other strengthening activities that use major muscle groups can also be added.
A small amount of weight gain at regular intervals will increase muscle mass and affect metabolism, bone density, decrease insulin resistance, and even help improve sleep patterns.
The elderly should be sure to include enough basic exercises to improve balance and stability, which will reduce the risk of falls.
The following are some important tips for a strength training program:
1. Warm up at least 10 minutes before exercise and cool down for at least 10 minutes after exercise.
2. Maintain good posture form during all exercises.
3. Don’t hold your breath while exercising, making sure to breathe on the exertion portion of the exercise.
4. Don’t grip the weights too tightly
5. All movements must be done consciously at a slow to moderate speed.
6. Some muscle soreness can be expected, but stop the exercise if you experience joint pain.
7. One must be able to complete 2 sets of 10 repetitions in good form before gaining weight.
8. It is possible to train strength daily by alternating the main muscle groups. For example, one can work the legs on Monday and the arms on Tuesday.
The bottom line:
Numerous studies have shown that strength training done regularly by older people not only strengthens bones and muscles, but also counteracts the weakness and brittleness that often accompany aging. Therefore, it is of great value for seniors and seniors to add some strength training to their exercise program.
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