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Weights, Muscle Mass and Aging

Here is a very thought provoking article.

The latest research is changing how doctors look at muscle mass. No longer seen simply in terms of performance or vanity, muscle mass serves as the body’s armor against several age-related diseases as well as heart problems, diabetes, and even cancer.

But sarcopenia creeps by in imperceptible increments, stealing a fifth of a pound of muscle a year, from ages 25 to 50, and then it picks up a dreadful, yet still mostly silent, velocity. The condition subsequently bleeds a man of up to a pound of muscle a year, a loss he is unlikely to notice until it’s too late.

“In the last 20 years, we have come full circle,” says Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, PhD, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois and a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. “We used to discourage older adults from lifting heavy weights. Now we’re telling them they can’t maintain overall health without it. After age 50, you can’t get by just doing aerobic exercise.” Although it’s not explicit yet in the government’s overall health guidelines, agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommend a couple of rounds of resistance training a week. “Muscle function can improve — sometimes robustly — with resistance training, even after the onset of sarcopenia,” says Robert Wolfe, PhD, a professor of geriatrics at the University of Arkansas. “But it is far more effective to begin resistance training before the process gains momentum. Intervention in the middle years is necessary.”

Overall, the article is pretty scary stuff if you’re over 50 and lead sedentary life. But even aerobic exercise isn’t enough according to current research. So, pickup those weights and get going! Me too!

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