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Loss of Strength

Frailty is a word most people are familiar with. It is used to describe weakness due to loss of strength in older adults. Becoming very weak from muscle loss, is medically referred to as sarcopenia, a common disease of old age. The process of muscle loss is gradual, and takes place over many decades. Anyone who lives a sedentary lifestyle when they're young is a potential victim for sarcopenia when they're old.

Current research in the field of aging has taught us that older, inactive adults continue to lose muscle as they age. This loss isn't a characteristic we should expect as we grow older, but rather, we should expect to lose muscle because we are inactive. Simply put, if we don't use it, we lose it. Everyone should be concerned about muscle loss, because it affects our quality of life, our health, how well we age, and our ability to remain independent. Muscle loss is the underlying factor in a number of other unfavorable, age-related bodily changes, such as a slowdown in metabolism, a steady increase in body fat, reduced blood-sugar tolerance, and a continuing loss in bone density.

Adults who don't participate in regular strength exercise, lose about one-half pound of muscle per year during their 30's, and 40s. The rate of muscle loss doubles in inactive adults over 50. Adults 50 or over, lose one pound of muscle per year. To understand the significance of muscle loss in the context of aging, consider the problems it will cause in everyday life. Muscle loss makes us weak. As we grow weaker, the ability to perform daily tasks becomes more difficult. A typical inactive 70 year old, who has lived a sedentary lifestyle, will have lost about 25% of their muscle, due to neglect.

Unless we strengthen our muscles on a regular basis, a daily routine that was once easy, may become a series of arduous tasks as we age. Sarcopenia (extreme muscle weakness), affects our ability to maintain our independence. When we can no longer care for ourselves, we must rely on others for help. Sarcopenia is preventable. By adopting a basic program of strength training, older adults are able to regain muscle that has been lost, prevent unnecessary disability in old age, and continue to maintain their autonomy.


- Getting up and down from the floor
 - Lifting a vacuum cleaner
- Getting in and out of bed
 - Putting away groceries
- Getting in and out of the bathtub
 - Getting in and out of a car
- Climbing and descending stairs
 - Getting up and down from a toilet
- Opening doors

For individuals already experiencing weakness due to muscle loss, it's never too late to start a strength training exercise program. An important study was performed at the Research Center On Aging at Tufts University. Researchers did an 8 week strength training study on women between 87 - 90 years old, and a 12 week strength training study on men between the ages of 70 to 90. All subjects were residents in the Hebrew Nursing Home in Boston. The remarkable results of the study proved that older adults can recover losses in muscle through strength training, regardless of their prior condition.

This article was provided by Intense Personal Training, Inc.
For more information on Intense Personal Training, Inc., check out their full profile here.
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