Building muscles and being fit when you’re older is something that doesn’t go together, many people think. Is it possible to build muscles at an advanced age or do we even lose our hard-earned muscles? This article gives you an overview of the most important facts about muscle building as we age, what changes and whether it’s worth starting your fitness journey late in life.
Loss of muscle with age
The fact that most people lose their muscles from an advanced age is indeed true, but it is not due to aging per se, but rather to changing circumstances. Many people do less and less sport with increased age or give up regular sporting activity completely over time.
The increased inactivity and lack of exercise then logically leads to a loss of muscle mass. Inactivity is often accompanied by an unhealthy diet, poor or little sleep and everyday stress, which further accelerates the loss of muscles.
Can you still build muscles when you are older?
A study by American physiologists compared the ability to build muscles between younger and older individuals who performed weight training over 16 weeks. The building of the muscles was determined and evaluated using fractional muscle protein synthesis. The result of the study was that muscle gains did not differ significantly between the two age groups.
Depending on each individual’s genetic makeup, it may even be possible to build muscle better than at a young age. However, if you are not genetically blessed, it may also be that you won’t be able to build up muscles so easily. But fact is that one can build up muscles even when older, that is for sure.
So what’s different about building muscle as you get older
Even though you don’t have to worry about losing muscles as you get older if you stay active and exercise, some things are a little different than they were when you were younger. Some things make it more difficult to build muscles, while some bring great benefits:
The regeneration is no longer as fast
While in younger years one was fit for the same muscle group after a few days, it takes longer for most at an advanced age to fully recover and be able to exercise the muscle again.
Greater muscle quality
Experienced gym-goers benefit from more muscle quality as they age. With many years of fitness experience, muscle density increases and this can be seen visually.
Improved blood circulation and muscle sensation
Blood circulation and muscle sensation also improves with age. Due to many years of training experience, older athletes have a better muscle feeling and can therefore control the muscles better.
No matter how old – sport is always worth it
No matter how old you are, it is always worthwhile to continue or even start with sports. Studies show that age is not an obstacle to building muscles. Especially for those who are not athletic, starting to lead an athletic lifestyle will bring many advantages:
Sport improves hormonal balance
Exercise, especially strength training, stimulates testosterone production, which is known to decline with age. Increased testosterone production leads to more pleasure in life, a higher energy level, more serenity and better stress management in everyday life.
Prevention of osteoporosis through muscle building
Muscle building has been shown to improve bone density, which can prevent typical age-related diseases such as osteoporosis (bone loss).
Sport strengthens the cardiovascular system
Those who exercise regularly as they get older strengthen the cardiovascular system. As a result, the organs and cells in the body are better supplied with blood, nutrients and oxygen. This leads to a healthier well-being and a lower susceptibility to age-related diseases.
Improvement of metabolism through muscle building
Those who increase their muscle mass automatically enhance their metabolism. The extra developed muscles also work in resting phases, stimulate the distribution of nutrients in the entire organism and boost fat burning.
More vitality thanks to more muscles
More muscles encourages an increase in testosterone levels, which in turn boosts quality of life and positive feelings about life.