How to keep your muscles as you age

Did you know thar you start to lose muscle mass as early as age 35?

This loss escalates after 50, reaching up to 8% each year between 50 to 70.

This can impact on your strength and your risk of frailty and falls and fractures as you age.

So, what can you do to prevent muscle loss?

A minimum of 75 minutes per week of moderate activity, like brisk walking is advised for adults, plus two sessions of muscle strengthening a week. Current evidence shows that only about 15% of older people meet this suggested level of physical activity.

There are many simple ways to build our muscles too. Working around the house may fulfill the strengthening requirement, depending on what people do. Vigorous garden work involving shovelling or raking might count or lifting boxes in the garage.

What other strengthening activities can people do?
  • Exercising with hand or ankle weights plus resistance bands,
  • Using weight machines at a gym under the guidance of a personal trainer, and
  • Yoga postures that require holding up your body weight.
How can I get started?
  • Begin at two to three days per week.
  • Perform eight to 10 multi-joint exercises that stress the major muscle groups (e.g., arms, legs, back).
  • Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions with good form (ask a fitness expert for help).
  • Lift and lower the weight in a controlled manner (two seconds each up and down), and
  • Progress weight lifted over time so that it feels like eight out of 10 difficulty (10 being the hardest you can give).

Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health professional before starting on a new exercise regime.

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A special thanks to our contributors

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.