In Western civilisations, many people struggle with the fact of being overweight, and some are trying hard to lose some of their weight. However, there is a situation when we do not want to lose weight: when we are getting older, and when the weight we are losing is muscle mass.
Muscle loss picks up after the age of 60. This is a problem because the less muscles people have, the higher is their risk of falling, which in turn leads not only their physical, but also their mental abilities to decrease during hospitalisation. But even without getting injured because of falling, building up muscles seems to help maintain and improve our mental capacities, as described in the post “Can weight lifting make us smarter”. So muscle loss is something we should prevent ourselves from when getting older.
Professor David Heber from UCLA's Department of Medicine found out that people can build muscles as they age - not only maintain them as they are, but even build them up! What they have to do is resistance exercise. That means stretching a muscle, which forces it to adapt to the stretch. Weight lifting is one means of achieving this.
Learn more by listening to the podcast on the topic here.
You can read the story on the NPR homepage.
So building up our muscles is important at all ages, not only for staying physically fit when we are getting older, but also for keeping our little grey cells working. And the good news is: Muscles can be built up even when we get older!