Muscles Can Be Strengthened at Any Age

You are never too old to enlarge and strengthen your muscles. A study from Copenhagen, Denmark shows that just 12 weeks of lifting weights significantly strengthened the muscles of men 85 to 97 years of age (Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, August 2007). After 12 weeks of training, the cross sectional circumference of their quad muscles in the front of their upper legs increased by 10 percent, and muscle strength increased by 35 to 50 percent. Furthermore, the muscle fibers that are used for strength and speed increased significantly.

Frailty in old age is caused by lack of exercise, not just by growing old. With aging, you lose nerves. Each nerve is attached to a single muscle fiber, so as you lose muscle fibers you become weaker. Older people who exercise against resistance can enlarge their muscle fibers. This counteracts the effects of losing fibers and they can retain a significant amount of strength.

People with weak hearts can suffer heart damage with vigorous exercise. Before an older person starts an exercise program, it may be wise to check with a doctor to make sure that the heart is sound. The most dependable heart test is a thallium stress test. Then engage a personal trainer to teach the person how to exercise on a series of individual weight lifting machines that stress different muscle groups. Usually the recommended program involves going to each machine and lifting and lowering the weight on that machine in a single set of three to ten repetitions. Most people can do this three or more times a week. Fitness newsletter


Post a Comment