Muscle loss is inevitable as you age, but adopting a regular weight training program can help slow the process.
You naturally lose muscle as you age, a condition called sarcopenia. After age 30, men begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade, and most will lose about 30% over their lifetimes. But you have the power to change this — with weight training.
“Weight training is the best way to increase muscle mass lost due to aging and keep the muscle you have, and it’s never too late to begin,” say Vijay Daryanani, a personal trainer with Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Outpatient Center.
Benefits of more muscle
You need added muscle now more than ever. Weaker muscle means less stamina, balance, and mobility, all of which can increase your risk of falls and fractures.
In fact, a 2015 report from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research found that people with sarcopenia had 2.3 times the risk of having a low-trauma fracture from a fall, such as a broken hip, collarbone, leg, arm, or wrist.
“Added muscle from weight training also helps with everyday movements you take for granted, like reaching a high shelf or rising from a chair,” says Daryanani.
Weight training offers other health benefits, too. For example:
Lower diabetes risk. A 2012 Harvard study of 32,000 men found that doing just 60 minutes of weight training per week could lower a man’s risk for type 2 diabetes by 12% compared with doing none. Increase your weekly time to between 60 and 150 minutes, and you could lower your risk by 25%. The connection? Researchers found that weight training helps control weight and reduce blood sugar (glucose) levels. During a workout, your muscles rapidly use glucose, and this energy consumption continues even after you’ve finished. Read More