Conscious Aging: Lifting Weights

Muscle mass and strength begin to decline in our 30’s, and that process — called sarcopenia — accelerates after age 75. Muscle strength is important for all the daily activities of living, for all the times we need to push, pull, lift, elevate, open, climb steps or hills, carry, hold on to, jump over a puddle at the curb, twist open a cap or unseal a jar … the list is long.

What counters loss of muscle mass and strength is resistance training, or weight training.

I’ve faithfully done weight training as part of my daily exercise routine for many years, although I last worked with a trainer in Rochester — shout out for the best of all trainers, J.

I still notice a decline in what I’m able to do. Notably, lying on my back and using a chess press, I’m lifting only the long bar, which weighs 40 pounds, and not adding additional weight. Ten years ago, working out at the World Gym in Rochester, I recall my then trainer putting on more weight, maybe 25 pounds on each side.

I could probably do a bit more than I’m doing, although part of my decision-making is an abundance of caution about re-injuring something in the front of my shoulder which seems all too easy to do and takes all too long to heal — 4 to 6 weeks. Who knows what it is — rotator cuff? Some sort of impingement? I know when it happens, and what makes it more likely to happen, and how much it hurts when it does.

I’ve always known that rigorous exercise is about slowing the aging process, not defeating it. I’m accepting, sort of, that what I’m able to do now is less than I could do ten years ago.

My big measures are things like how well I can lift my suitcase into an overhead bin and get it down again. On that score, I’m still pretty much OK.

3 thoughts on “Conscious Aging: Lifting Weights

  1. I can really relate to what you have written. I am now 78 and I have noticed a “decline” in those things that require “muscles” just in the last couple of years. As I have mentioned to you before, it isn’t anything others would notice (especially since I am very active and involved in a lot of things) but I am certainly aware of it. We belong to a gym, but I unfortunately do not have your dedication. I tend to go in spurts. I know I need to make it a priority and when we get back from our vacation, I intent to do just that. You have inspired me. Or you may have to walk more slowly when I come to visit. 🙂

  2. for Ada: Don’t worry about that — I adjust my walking pace quite easily! The determination to go to the gym comes with consistently going. I just feel better when I exercise regularly. And I do think the rate of decline is slower. But it’s there, as we both know.

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