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In the Spotlight

Aging and Muscle Loss

Keep your strength and stay independent

Veteran practicing yoga safely, outsideAging can come with some great benefits, like wisdom, experiences, and memories. But one challenge can include muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia. Losing strength as you age can make daily tasks harder and can cause you to become less independent. Can it be stopped?

By keeping your muscles strong and able, you can stay independent longer and continue doing the things you love without needing much help from others.

Things that accelerate muscle loss

As you age, your body can change in ways that surprise you. One of the most noticeable changes is weakness and ease of motion. Your lifestyle and overall health play a key role in how fast those changes occur. Factors that can increase muscle loss include:

You can control many of the factors linked to muscle loss. Managing your health conditions and making the right lifestyle changes can help you build and keep your strength.

‘Motion is lotion, rest is rust’

We can’t stop ourselves from aging, but we can slow down some of its effects. While increased physical activity is important to maintain your overall health and well-being, engaging in strengthening exercises at least 2 to 3 times each week is your best defense against muscle loss. By continuing to use your muscles, you’ll be working to keep them strong.

You don’t need expensive exercise equipment, a personal trainer, or even a gym membership. Common forms of physical activity and exercise that can help build strength and keep you mobile include:

  • Walking, stair climbing, and biking

  • Strength training with resistance tubes and bands

  • Yard work (mowing, gardening, and planting)

If you’re unsure about starting, try TeleMOVE! It's a virtual 90-day program that focuses on nutrition, physical activity, and behavior changes. You may also consider one of the many varieties of yoga that may also help to maintain muscle strength, as well as relaxation and meditation practices.

Before starting a new exercise program, use Secure Messaging (sign in required) to talk to your health care team about any conditions you might have and see what is right for you. You can also keep track of your progress with the My HealtheVet Activity Journal.

Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.

Which physical activity or exercise are you most likely to try?