How to Keep Muscles Strong as You Age (SciAm)

Here’s why older adults naturally lose muscle mass over time and how regular physical activity and resistance training can help

“It really is the neurology, as well as the muscular system and the interactions between the two, that changes,” she says. “There’s a fair amount of evidence that says all of those things are still there and [that] we can retrain them.”

Several factors contribute to involuntary age-related muscle loss. The exact age people start to see muscle mass decline varies, Gray says, but many begin to see noticeable changes in their 30s. Studies suggest that muscle mass decreases by about 3 to 8 percent per decade after age 30 and at higher rates after age 60. Losing that strength may not only be frustrating in keeping up with daily activities but can also have significant health consequences.

“If you look at who’s shrinking, and how much they’re shrinking, it predicts really important stuff, like how long you’re going to live, how vulnerable you are to getting sick and having to be in the hospital, how likely you are to develop problems taking care of yourself,” says Stephanie Studenski, a geriatrician and professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh.


I am working on beating my 33 year old son at Arm wrestling. I am making very gradual progress (in the sense that rather than him beating me easily I can at least lose 2:1 - with my dominant arm and his non-dominant).

I have moved to using 10kg of extra weight for chinups. That is useful for building strength, but I don’t do a lot of exercise.