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How to Avoid Muscle Atrophy at Any Age – Use it or Lose it

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Use it or Lose it – Avoiding Muscle Atrophy

No matter what age you are, if you lead a sedentary life, you can start losing muscle, also referred to as muscle atrophy.

“If you’re 18 and in good health but sit in front of a computer, you’ll develop muscle atrophy,” which can cause abdominal and spinal muscles to waste away. “The more inactive you are the more you start losing. But muscle atrophy resulting from non-use is reversible through exercise.

Ask your physician or trainer to create an exercise program tailored to your needs. For arthritic patients, we recommend strength training to bring more circulation to the muscles and stretching to help maintain movement within the joints. If your joints can’t handle the pounding of running or jumping exercises like jump rope or jumping jacks, try our Kangoo Jumps classes.  Other ideal exercises are water aerobics or swimming.

If you have osteoporosis, try weight lifting to strengthen your bones.

Here is a guide to getting started, by age:

20s: If you’re active, a good aerobic exercise lasting 20 minutes to an hour will help maintain good body weight. To burn fat, go longer than 20 minutes. Then, do some weight training.  Work with a personal trainer if you are just beginning.  But first, get a checkup from your doctor, especially if you are obese and have not had a stress test.

An hour 3 days a week is good for a beginner in relatively good health — a maximum of 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weights. As your endurance builds, you can progress to four to five days a week.  Be sure to work different muscle groups on different days.

30s-40s: Continue the regimen you did in your 20s, but watch for injuries. If you have pain, other than general muscle soreness, that lasts longer than two hours, stop and see your doctor. If you’re over 40, take a stress test first to make sure your heart can handle exercise.

50s-60s: If you have been exercising up until this point, you can continue with your routine, making modifications as needed.  However, if you are just starting out, this is a good time to join an adult exercise program. If you don’t exercise at this age, your cholesterol goes up and you increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

70s+: See your doctor regularly. Your regimen should change to include balance exercises that ease pressure on the joints, such as yoga and Barre.  Another option is tai chi.

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