How to Keep Your Muscles Strong as You Age

Old age is like Christmas with the in-laws. You can’t avoid it, so mightas well make the best of it. Eggnog will take care of the holidaytension, but aging gracefully requires a more intentional approach.

You need to make sure theres enough gas left in the tank to make your third act worth hanging around for.

Most people wait until the first signs of aging show up before they even think about the fact that they’re getting older. If that’s you, not to worry. You can still build muscle when you’re old (or older), it just takes a little longer.

However, a far better idea is to focus on aging intentionally in your late twenties. Up until the age of thirty, your muscles are still on an upward growth curve. Beyond that point age-related sarcopenia rears its head, and you being losing muscle mass and function.

While barely noticeable at first, it speeds up with each passing year. Depending on how active you are, you could stand to lose anywhere up to five percent of your muscle mass each decade after the age of 30. That’s a lot of muscle to have to earn back.

Resistance Training for the Long Haul

How to Keep Muscles Strong as You Age

If you want to keep your body strong as you ageyou need to make exercise apart of your daily life. It doesn’t matter if you’re hauling groceries from the car, roughhousing with the grandchildren or hiking the Appalachian Trail, a strong core, stable knees and decent upper body strength are vital.

If you know your way around the gym, a beginner’s guide to resistance training will be enough to get your started. But if you haven’t set foot inside a gym since high school or only frequent the sauna and aerobics studio, hiring a personal trainer to show you the basics will be money well spent.

Pilates, Pilates, Pilates

How to Keep Your Muscles Strong as You Age

I’m an endorphin junkie by nature. I love to sweat. Most mornings you’ll find me out for a run or in the spinning studio. When I was younger I’d throw in some weight training and call it a day. If someone mentioned Pilates I’d snort disdainfully. I considered it “old ladies’ exercise” and refused to even try it.

Now that I’m fifty I see the error of my ways. My 54-year-old Pilates instructor is as strong and supple as my friend’s 10-year-old gymnast daughter. Perhaps more so.

“Pilates is your support system,” she tells us every week. “It’s boring and it’s tough but you do it to make the other stuffeasy.” She’s an elite ultra-athlete, so she should know.

These days I’m a devotee. Ifinally understandwhy your core is so important.Pilates has many benefits to offer besides a strong core, though.It increases your flexibility, tones you up, improves your overall strength and mobility, helps you balance better and more. My personal favorite, however, is how it strengthens the mind-body connection.

The only potential caveat with Pilates is finding the right instructor. Each one has their own style and technique and, of course, personality. I might have struck paydirt with mine, but I had to kiss a lot of frogs to find her.

As longevity exercise modalities go, Pilates is at the very tippy-top (IMHO). If your first class isn’t great, go back a second time and a third. And try different teachers, too. Eventually it’ll click, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it years ago.

Octogenarian Bodybuilders Inspire

The biggest problem with aging is mindset. Instead of using age as an excuse for not doing something, challenge yourself to do it anyway. You only have to look to the world’s longest-lived cultures to see that age is just a number.

Many centenarians are still living happy, healthy and active lives. They didn’t take to the couch just because they turned a certain age. They’re still continuing with everyday life, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow and working in the garden.

Sometimes, a healthy dose of inspiration is all it takes to motivate us to do the things we know we should be doing, but, well, just don’t do.

At 81 years old, Toshisuke Kanazawa is living proof that you can transform yourself from out of shape and sedentary to Japan’s best bodybuilder.


In the United States. The world’s oldest female bodybuilder is still pushing weights at 80-years-old. Ernestine Shepherd’s is truly a remarkable story and one we can all aspire to.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

44 comments

Bill E
Bill E2 months ago

I do know that it is lots harder to make and keep muscle as you age.

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Ruth S
Ruth S2 months ago

Clean your own house, do the yardwork yourself, do the maintenance jobs on your home. etc.! Don't hire it done.

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Ruth S
Ruth S2 months ago

Thanks.

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Leo C
Leo C2 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Faith Billingham
Faith Billingham2 months ago

Great article, thanks!!

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Angela K
Angela K2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Maria P
Past Member 2 months ago

thanks very much

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Toni W
Toni W2 months ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W2 months ago

TYFS

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sandy G
sandy Gardner2 months ago

Thanks

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