Aging and muscle loss, yikes!

As we get older, even as early as our 30s, we lose muscle mass. Muscle loss really starts to accelerate in our 50s, and by the time people are aged 60 to 70, we have lost 12 percent of their muscle mass, and people over age 80 have lost around 30 percent. 

This muscle loss is known as sarcopenia, and aging is one of the risk factors. Muscle loss can cause us all sorts of problems, such as loss of balance, loss of stamina and increased weakness, increased falls and fractures, the inability to do activities of daily living, greater inflammation, and risk of heart disease. 

Less than 20 percent of older adults engage in adequate physical activity, and fewer perform strength training. Strength and resistance training is an excellent way to combat the effects of muscle loss. Even if you have never worked with weights before, strength training as you get older has many benefits. Strength training can improve balance, enhance flexibility, relieve arthritis pain, control weight gain, lift depression, reduce stress, reduce the risk of heart disease and improve sleep.

Stay Strong Stay Healthy is a program offered through K-State Research and Extension designed to help maintain or improve your muscle mass. The University of Missouri adopted Stay Strong, Stay Healthy from the Tufts University program for women. Participants in Stay Strong, Stay Healthy meet for one hour twice a week for eight weeks. Activities include warm-up exercises, strengthening exercises with or without weights, cool-down stretches, and lots of fun.

Class members are encouraged to exercise once more on their own during the week. Evidence has shown that this program works — participants who have completed the program report feeling better in their overall health and feel stronger. Participants who have completed pre- and post-fitness assessments improve their balance, flexibility and stamina. 

Class space is limited, so drop by or call the Holton extension office to register for the class.

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