In the previous post about aging I covered sarcopenia, the term that scientist use when discussing the loss of muscle mass, stooped posture and slowed uncoordinated movement that often besets older people. This is the combined result of biological changes in the body that include a slowing of synthesis of needed proteins, a loss of the hormones testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone) and the dieing off of neurons that the body uses to stimulate the muscles to action.
According to a USDA website these normal aging processes begin to occur at around the age of 45 when we start to lose about one percent of muscle mass per year. The loss is accelerated at the age of around 60.
Leading a sedentary life will make the effects of sarcopenia worsen as we grow older. This has been proven over the years by tests performed by NASA who noticed “old age” type symptoms of otherwise very fit astronauts who returned from long periods in space where their movement and exercise where extremely limited.
Doctors and scientist have discovered that sarcopenia and the muscle degradation that the astronauts faced have a common cure: resistance training . Doctors have long recommended at least 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise like jogging or walking. This kind of exercise is great for the cardiovascular system, it may even add a little muscle, but resistance training that requires the use of weights to build muscle is what is needed to have any real gains. Multiple studies since the late 1990s point to resistance training as the best tool against sarcopenia, many physical therapists and doctors are advising resistance training over aerobic exercise.
Beginning resistance training in mid-life delays and reduces the appearance of sarcopenia later and one study showed that elderly people aged 78 to 84 who went on a program experienced an average increase in protein synthesis of 182 percent. Another study, funded by the USDA, found that elderly participants who trained for 45 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks saw an average increase of 32 percent for muscle fiber and a 30 percent increase in strength.In effect, reversing the signs of aging!