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Progressing in Strength

Exercise for Seniors

Although they might not notice it as it happens, most people lose 20 to 40 percent of their muscle tissue as they get older. Strength exercise can at least partly restore muscle and strength.

Power Lifting Weights

Gradually increasing the amount of weight you use is crucial for building strength.

When you are able to lift a weight between 8 to 15 times, you can increase the amount of weight you use at your next session.

Here is an example of how to progress gradually:

  • Start out with a weight that you can lift only 8 times. Keep using that weight until you become strong enough to lift it 12 to 15 times. Add more weight so that, again, you can lift it only 8 times. Use this weight until you can lift it 12 to 15 times, then add more weight. Keep repeating.

Sarcopenia: A Word You Are Likely to Hear More About

We know that muscle building exercises can improve strength in most older adults, but many questions remain about muscle loss and aging.

Researchers want to know, for example, if factors other than a sedentary lifestyle contribute to muscle loss. Does age itself cause changes in the muscles of older people? Is muscle loss related to changes in hormones or nutrition? The answers to these questions may lead to ways of helping us keep our strength as we age.

Frailty vs. Sarcopenia

We use the word "frailty" to describe the loss of muscle and strength often seen in older people, because it's a word that most people are familiar with. However, a better word to use is "sarcopenia" (pronounced sar - ko - PEEN - ya). It means not only the loss of muscle and strength but also the decreased quality of muscle tissue often seen in older adults. You are likely to hear more about sarcopenia in the future since it's a very active area of research.

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