Taking Care of Your Muscles
What aging can bring: Decreases in strength and muscle mass, loss of flexibility, loss of balance.
What the research shows: “Maximal muscle strength is achieved in the 20s and 30s,” says Roseann M. Lyle, Ph.D., professor of public health at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana. “If you’re sedentary, you will start losing strength after age 50 at a rate of 2 to 5 percent per decade.” But if you keep using your muscles, through activities like weight training, you can maintain strength and flexibility even into your 90s. It’s also important to work on balance, which falters with age, and to keep muscles agile so you can react quickly.
What you can do: Add resistance moves to your workout, and mix in some fast, dynamic exercise as well―dance classes, tennis, volleyball, anything that gets you “moving fast in different directions,” says Lyle. Good balance builders are one-legged squats, yoga poses such as “tree,” and even something as simple as standing on one foot and then the other while you brush your teeth or do the dishes.