Remember the days when you could run around and not get winded? You had all the energy in the world and wondered why those older than you preferred relaxation to activity?

Energy and body strength are gifts enjoyed by fit individuals who maintain a love of exercise, eating well, drinking water and getting enough rest. Others are just blessed with great genes and maybe a bit of good luck!

For most, however, maintaining body strength is important – not only because it allows you to do all the things you love to do, but also because sarcopenia – a condition associated with loss of muscle mass – can lead to diseases and conditions many begin to battle as they age.

“We start losing muscle mass around age 35 to 40 and muscle loss is connected to many diseases. In fact, dementia is now being called Type 3 diabetes and it’s linked to loss of muscle mass,” explained Tyson Burwell, assistant director of the Swan Family Wellness Center, part of Faith Community Health Services.

The Swan Family Wellness Center, an incredible 10,000 square foot resource located adjacent to Faith Community Hospital in Jacksboro, offers a wide variety of health and wellness programs. Our experienced, certified staff members provide one-on-one, small group and group fitness classes to meet your needs.

Check out the center’s class schedule here. Personal training and rehab appointments are available at your convenience. Call 940-567-6633, ext. 379, to get more information.

If you want to ward off diseases and maintain your independence as you age, it’s important to focus on maintaining muscle mass, he added, noting, “We may have chased an aesthetic all our lives but now our goal should be making sure we are able to live without pain.”

Women are more prone to sarcopenia than men. This may be because men generally spend more time working on building muscles, whereas having a muscular body has not necessarily been deemed a feminine trait.

Additionally, many people think that gaining weight or being overweight causes lack of body strength. “That’s not necessarily true,” Burwell said. “The problem is that when we lose weight, we actually lose more muscle mass than fat. If you are trying to lose weight, you must eat the right amount of protein to protect muscle mass.”

Top Tips for Maintaining Muscle Mass As You Age

In order to maintain your strength, you have to start with some strength training to build muscle mass. Lifting weights is the best way to do this, Burwell said.

Start a Strength Training Program: You can join the Swan Family Wellness Center or any gym that offers access to weights and a qualified trainer who can create a program that’s right for you.

The Swan Family Wellness Center offers strength training classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m. Classes are small and participants have plenty of fun getting stronger. Call 940-567-6633, ext. 379, for more information. Chair yoga provides bodyweight strength training as is available at the Wellness Center on Wednesdays.

Whether you join a class or go through the machines in the gym on your own, pay attention to the fact that you need to work all of your muscle groups – arms, legs and core.

If you are not a fan of the gym, you can start by Googling “beginning strength training” and be creative with what you use for weights. Hint: soup cans and milk jugs filled with water work great!

Don’t Forget to Work on Balance! “If you are starting a strength training program, you also need to watch your balance,” Buwell said. “Hold onto a chair or table, or lean against the wall, to maintain your position.” 

Start Slow and Know Your Limits! When it comes to strength training, it’s easier to try to go from zero to 100. “That’s a recipe for injury,” Burwell said. “Start slowly, know your limits and create a routine that can become a habit. For example, do your exercises at the same time everyday. When you schedule your strength training time, you can check it off your ‘to do’ list. Motivation is great but commitment is better.  If you lack motivation, being consistent will really help you get where you need to go.”

Bottom line: It’s never too late. You can reverse muscle atrophy; once it’s lost, it’s not lost forever. With a strength training program, you can get it back and get back to the life you love.

Memberships Available

You can purchase a monthly membership to the Swan Family Wellness Center, 215 Chisholm Trail in Jacksboro–adjacent to Faith Community Hospital. Wellness Center discounts are offered to employees of schools, the Lindsey State Jail, members of the military and first responders.