When a women over 45 tells me she does not want to lift weights as she does not want to “bulk up” I just want to scream.
At age 35 we begin to steadily lose muscle mass. You don’t see many 18 or 20 year old worrying about “toning up” do you? That loss of muscle tone and loss of muscle strength is just flat lost muscle. You can get it back with weight training.
Remember the commercial that we have all seen for Lifealert, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Coming from the perspective of middle age or younger, I had always assumed that she was injured in the fall. However, she did not say, “Help, I’m hurt, and I can’t get up.” I work with folks with age related muscle loss, and I understand the importance of weight training as we age. I had a revelation, and maybe it did not occur to you. The elderly lady on the floor couldn’t get up because she was too weak. She did not have the muscle strength to get herself off of a floor!
The University of Cambridge studied 90 women over-75 in the Cohort Study of aging and health. During the one year study, 60 percent of participants reported falling, and of those who fell, 80 percent or four out of five, needed help getting up, and 30 percent remained on the floor for over an hour.One method of improving strength with aging is to get enough calories from protein each day, in each meal, to sustain muscle mass. Growth hormones in our younger years provide new cell growth, and we often do not have to eat and exercise as diligently to maintain strength and muscle tone the same way that is needed later in life. As a result strength and muscle decrease year after year that we do not maintain it.
The primary treatment for age related muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia or skinnyfat, is exercise, especially strength training. Muscle growth and muscle strength are often referred to as “muscle tone.” Muscle tone is essentially a euphamism for the onset of muscle firmness. Greater muscle size is only achieved after the muscle has first firmed, grown, and strengthened.