Keep It Movin’ | Good Form

By Sara Baker | Thursday, April 5, 2007, 06:00 AM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I say this all the time to clients, “move it or lose it.” But it really is true. Just about every system in our body will atrophy, decline, wither, weaken, or become inefficient if it is not regularly challenged and/or utilized.

The definition of this decline in the skeletal muscle system (the type of muscles that move your body) is called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a greek word meaning “poverty of flesh.” Sarcopenia is a universal part of the aging process. The process of gradual muscle loss starts in your thirties and becomes significant in your fifties. At age 80 more than 50% of people will have clinically determined sarcopenia that is defined as 2 standard deviations below the mean of the average healthy population.

The impact on this loss of muscle mass is enormous. It decreases your ability to recovery from injury, illness, or disease because muscle mass stores nitrogen and amino acids that are essential for our autoimmune system to function. And it decreases your ability to function by decreasing your strength, balance and endurance. Sarcopenia costs our country $18.1 BILLION dollars each year in healthcare expenditures.

The really wonderful thing is that sarcopenia is preventable through regular resistance/strength training. Just as regular cardiovascular exercise is important to keep our heart and lungs in good shape and prevent disease as we age, resistance exercise helps to keep our muscular system from wasting and strength from declining. And don’t think you can’t build muscle/strength if you are over a certain age. Studies have shown that men and women in their nineties can build muscle mass and strength with resistance exercise.

Does anyone have creative ways they make sure they incorporate strength training into their workouts?