Muscle mass goes down with age. Strength and power do too. And it all may have begun much earlier than you think.

Age-related muscle loss, succinctly known as sarcopenia, can start around age 35 and occur at a pace of about 1 or 2 percent per year. After 60, that number is more likely to be around 3 percent.

Adults who don’t regularly perform strength training can lose 4-6 pounds of muscle per decade. Of course, you might not notice the numbers on the scale dropping: many times, that weight is replaced with fat.

Muscle loss can result in weakness and significant drops in speed. This can ultimately take a toll on independence and make struggles out of everyday activities. Walking, cleaning, shopping, or even getting dressed can become challenges.

Low levels of muscle mass, strength, and power can also impact your ability to cope and recover from illnesses or injuries. Some data suggest that disability is 1.5 to 4.6 times higher in older people with moderate to severe sarcopenia than those with normal muscle mass.

Falls and fractures are also a concern for aging folks. Muscle can be an instrumental factor in preventing falls and injuries. Strength can help keep you balanced, while muscle can also protect bones from impact.

Slowing, or even stopping muscle loss, is not as difficult as you might think. It takes some weight-bearing exercise a few times per week and a healthful diet with adequate amounts of high-quality protein.

To keep your muscles strong and active, you need to use them. Strength and power training can help as well as exercises to promote muscle mass. For some, walking more and doing more weight-bearing exercise can be a great place to start!

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