Living Life Well Into His Ninth Decade
Richard LeGars, an eighty-five-year-old retired aircraft mechanic, started training at Exercise Inc in 2018 because he was getting winded cutting the lawn. He wanted to get stronger so he could remain active as he gets older.
Richard’s thinking was spot on when he decided to strength train because he struggled to mow the lawn. For anyone over 60, lifting weights is an absolute requirement for optimal health. In fact, it’s the most important thing you can do to maintain independence in the eighth and ninth decades of your life.
At about age 30, all of us start losing muscle and strength at a rate of about 3 to 5% every decade. At age 50, muscle loss accelerates to about 8% per decade. Most people lose more than 50% of their muscle mass by the time they reach their 80s. That’s why Richard struggled to cut the lawn in his early 80s.
Doctors give a clinical diagnosis of sarcopenia, the medical term that describes this age-related loss of muscle and strength, when patients exhibit dramatic declines in walking speed and grip strength. Over 50% of folks over the age of 80 have a clinical diagnosis of sarcopenia, which robs them of their ability to function independently.
Muscle is the most significant tissue in your body. For a person with a healthy weight, muscle makes up 60% of one’s body. If you lose half of that muscle, your body will struggle to survive. The amount of muscle you have is the largest predictor of your metabolism. As you lose muscle, it becomes more difficult for you to maintain a healthy body fat percentage. And muscle loss is almost always associated with fat gain.
After a few months of training, Richard built a lot of strength in his arms and legs. He also felt stronger and had more energy. Mowing the lawn became easy again.
In December 2021, Richard was hospitalized with COVID. He spent 4 weeks in a hospital bed. When they felt like he was well enough to start moving again, a physical therapist came to help him resume walking. After 4 weeks of lying in a hospital bed, Richard was able to stand up and walk. Richard’s quick recuperation surprised his therapist. This 85-year-old’s strength from his training at Exercise Inc helped him maintain muscle and mobility despite his confinement to a hospital bed.
Richard told us that our program helped save his life. Now that he’s back to his 20 Minutes A Week, he feels better every day, he’s stronger, and has no problems at all.
This makes sense when you look at what the research tells us about the benefits of strength training for older adults.
Healthy men between the ages 60 and 72 who performed traditional strength training for 12 weeks were able to improve muscle strength at a rate of 5% per training session, which matches typical strength gains reported for younger adults. At the end of 12 weeks, this group of older men had improved knee extension strength by 107% and knee flexion strength by 227%.
In another study, muscle mass in a group of 70-year-olds who had strength trained since age 50 was equal to the muscle mass of a group of 28-year-olds.
Older people possess the ability to respond to strength training very well. In fact, muscle responds to strength training with rapid improvements into the ninth decade of life. In another study, a 92-year-old male who strength trained for 2 years increased muscle mass of his thighs by 42%.
And what about the women? After 6 months of strength training, a group of older female cardiac patients improved muscular strength and physical capacity in a wide range of household physical activities. They also improved endurance, balance, coordination, and flexibility.
Anyone can reverse a number of the effects of aging, especially frailty, by strength training on a regular basis. At Exercise Inc, we’ve helped our clients do this for more than 18 years. Many of our clients in our program who have changed their lives in 20 Minutes A Week have been 70, 80, or even 90 years old. We even train a world class cyclist who is 67 years old.
The method we use works so well because it’s the safest way to exercise that we know of. When you lift weights as slowly as we do, destructive forces are directed away from the joints. In return, the muscles are loaded in an efficient manner that brings about complete muscle fatigue in a very short amount of time.
Our slow lifting method has helped many of our clients double their strength in only 12 weeks. When you’re twice as strong, everything you do becomes a lot easier.
If you know someone in their 70s, 80s, or 90s who is starting to go downhill because they are losing muscle mass and strength, send them to Exercise Inc. They can get a free consultation by clicking here. See one example of how it helped one of our clients who feared how he’d feel when he turned 70 based on how he felt at 60. Or consider another client who literally reversed her osteoporosis by strength training with us.
Also remember that it doesn’t matter how old you are—if you’re not strength training, your muscles are getting weaker.
If you’re not a client, click here to give us a try.