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Tips for exercising as you get older

Betty Doyling advises clients such as Kathy Keane on the importance of exercising as they age (Photograph supplied)

I am not sure how many of my readers are over 50.

For those who are, it is not unusual if you are not feeling as strong as you used to, or if you have noticed a change in stamina.

As we age we lose bone density, muscle mass, tissue and organ function over time.

Studies have shown that from the age of 30, a person loses between three per cent and eight per cent of muscle mass per decade.

This process speeds up once we reach age 60; by 80, it is not surprising to lose almost half of our original muscle mass.

Sarcopenia, a decline in skeletal muscle, naturally occurs as we age. This can lead to frailty which could lead to a loss of independence, an increased risk of falls, fractures and hospitalisation.

About 15 per cent of adults between the ages of 50 and 65 and as many as 50 per cent of people over the age of 80 could have sarcopenia.


Unfortunately you can’t just exercise and not eat properly, and you can’t just eat properly and not exercise. You must do a combination of both.

Eating foods high in protein is the key to building muscle. When building muscle, you need at least 0.45 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

For example, a person weighing 150 pounds should eat about 67 grams of protein per day (150 x 0.45). Find it in eggs, poultry fish, nuts and beans. Cheese and milk are also good sources.

Protein is imperative, however you also need carbohydrates as they give your body the energy to be able to exercise.

Middle-aged and older adults should not be striving towards a low-carbohydrate diet. It is important, however, to be sure to choose healthy carbohydrates.

Vegetables, fruit and whole grains are better than highly-processed foods. Whole foods have vitamins and other nutrients that are great for your nutrition needs.


The absolute best way to avoid extensive muscle loss is to stay physically active all through life. And if you have been sedentary and have noticed a loss in strength, the answer is still exercise.

By combining a mixture of strength and aerobic training, you will start to improve your muscle mass and overall health.

If you have not been active, start slowly. Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise programmes or making any nutrition adjustments.

Only then should you consult a fitness professional; a good one will be able to give you a well-rounded programme that starts with the larger muscle groups and can assist in strengthening you overall.

They will also help you to know the correct form so you don’t injure yourself and create more setbacks. It can take between six to eight weeks to see results.

If after trying these options you still feel like you may be losing muscle and are not getting stronger, make another appointment with your doctor to see what they can do for you.

Stay strong, and healthy and B-Active For Life.

Betty Doyling is a certified fitness trainer and figure competitor with more than a decade of experience. Look for B. ActiveForLife on Facebook

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Published November 30, 2022 at 7:56 am (Updated November 30, 2022 at 7:56 am)

Tips for exercising as you get older

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