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Exercise and Fitness

Muscle loss as we age

02/08/2005

Question:

I am 50 and in decent shape--run/weight train/etc. Since i was busy raising kids/working for so many years i let all of this slide. Since i am back in shape again i notice "flab" in places i don`t like. I wouldn`t consider this fat. Is this muscle loss that will never come back? Can i tone these areas or is this flab something i now have to live with.

Answer:

Congratulations on getting back in shape! Yes, one can tone muscles and build endurance with strength training and cardiovascular conditioning.

The American Council on Exercise (2003) states that "muscle mass declines with age, resulting in decreased muscular strength and endurance".  "For each decade after the age of 25, 3-5 % of muscle mass is lost".  This is due to changes in lifestyle and decreased use of the neuromuscular system.  However, studies have shown significant strength gains in previously sedentary older adults following a program of regular exercise.

The deposit of adipose tissue in the body can be genetically predetermined. Therefore, a dramatic transformation of these areas may be out of your control.  But you will most definitely have more energy and feel better about yourself!

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Response by:

Carolyn   Nickol, RD, MEd Carolyn Nickol, RD, MEd
Director
Fitness Center at CARE\Crawley
University of Cincinnati