How to rebuild the muscle you lose as you age

Time takes a toll on us as we age.

We start to lose muscle mass once we hit our 30s and by the time we reach the 60s, our body has lost a considerable amount of muscle. That can set up a viscous cycle.

"Losing muscle mass means we do less and when we do less we lose more muscle mass, and so on," said Dr. John Swartzberg at the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.

Here's the good news: With exercise you can rebuild some of that lost muscle.

"Now you're not going to look like you did in your 20s when you're in your 70s, but remarkably you can look quite healthy and have a consider amount of muscle in you 60s, 70s and 80s, if you rebuild it," Dr. Swartzberg said.

There are two types of exercises you want to do.

Light resistance with many repetitions improves muscle endurance, which you need to ride a bike or take a brisk walk.

Heavy resistance with fewer repetitions builds muscle strength.

"Some of the times when we need that sudden strength would be if we're starting to slip and you need to grab a hold of something or your need to brace something or you need to throw on leg out in front of the other to catch yourself," Swartzberg explained.

With heavier lifting there's a great risk of hurting yourself, so you have to be very careful and increase the weight very gradually.  

More Info: Getting Fit for Life