Ups and Downs of Muscle Mass
Updated: Jun 18, 2019
A question we seem to get asked a lot is something along the lines of: "At what age does muscle mass start to decrease?" This is usually coming from a 20-30 something as if they are past their prime...
We will respond to the above question, with a question of our own:
Does a person simply get too old to be physically active at a certain point?
Or do they feel older because they stopped being physically active?
Or maybe they even stayed active, but no longer challenge themselves.
Although there is a natural negative trend in our later years, muscle mass loss could occur at any age. Muscle and bone are metabolically speaking "expensive" to maintain. Adaptation is a two way street, and if you don't use it, well you should know by now what happens.
In fact, knowing that there is a negative trend in the later years, it becomes imperative to perform more strenuous exercise or activity as we age chronologically, so that we don't feel the effects as much physically.
Take care of your body. And by that we mean challenge it. Actively seek to make things difficult for it. Exert moderate to significant effort, consistently, and it will adapt.
It probably takes less time and effort that you may think. General health guidelines recommend that adults perform 75-150 minutes/week of vigorous exercise. That could be as little as two ~30-ish minute sessions of hard-er physical work that could be the ticket to staying out of the physician and/or orthopedist's office. Or our office for that matter. Two 30 minute sessions! That's probably just two Netflix episodes of whatever you've been binge watching lately.
The result will be that your "hardware" may only be minimally different from the time you are 40 to the time you are 70 years old as shown in the referenced study (see link at bottom of page):
If you're not sure where to start. Get an assessment. You can't track progress if you don't know where you are starting. If it hurts to move, all the more reason to speak with a physical therapist to see how they can help you optimize your movement experience.
Wroblewski A, Amati F, Smiley M, et al. Chronic exercise preserves lean muscle mass in masters athletes. Physician Sports Med. 2011;39:172–178