When you reach your 50th birthday, figure on losing 0.4 pounds of muscle in each year ahead of you - unless you begin lifting weights. A new analysis of 49 studies concludes that older adults can gain an average of 2.42 pounds of lean body mass (mostly muscle) after 20 weeks of strength training. That will compensate for the 0.4-pound annual loss you would face if you were sedentary, according to a report published in the February, 2011, issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the scientific journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. Counteracting the natural loss of muscle mass can improve quality of life and boost your chances of living independently longer, the University of Michigan research team concluded. When to start? The sooner, the better, the investigators advised. And as with all weight training, as you accustom yourself to your program, you’ll have to increase the amount of weight you lift or the number of sets you do in order promote and sustain long-term growth of muscle mass.
More on aging gracefully.