The relationship between strength decline and ageing – is it inevitable?



One of the only few true absolutes in life is that we all get older and along with that comes the seemingly inevitable decline in strength. I’m sure we have all had the thought that we can’t do something like we were able to when we were younger. It is well documented that as we age our muscle mass and strength declines by anywhere from 3-5% every decade after age 30. It is often thought that strength decline is just a part of ageing and something we have to live with, but what are the factors that lead to strength decline? 

It is true there are unavoidable physiological changes as we age related to hormone changes and often reduced number and size of muscle fibres. These changes are largely out of our control, but research shows the biggest contributor to strength declines as we age is simply decreases in physical activity. As we get older we tend to do less, work less and move less. Our bodies adapt to this reduced activity and strength tends to follow and decline as well. This means that the greatest factor in strength loss is a modifiable one and therefore not one that we have to live with. One of the best features of our muscles is their ability to adapt to its demands throughout their life span. This means that no matter your age if you increase the demands on your muscular system they will adapt and increase in strength. 

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Therefore strength training is one of the most important tools to minimise the effects of ageing and a key requirement to help maintain our strength in spite of physiological changes. Reduced strength isn’t simply ‘getting old’.

Pop into the clinic if you would like help to develop an individualised strength program that you can do either at home or in the gym to prevent your strength decline as you age!


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