Prevent frailty and falls with weight training

The Equipped Fitness Room at the Westlake Community Services Building. Photo by Lydia Gadd

After age 30, yes I said 30, we begin to lose as much as 3-5% of our muscle mass each decade. This progressive loss of both muscle mass and function is known as sarcopenia. Ten percent of 50 year olds have sarcopenia. This number really accelerates after age 75. Men will lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lifetime.

Sarcopenia leads to frailty. Twenty-nine percent of people over 60 and 46% of people over 80 cannot lift 10 pounds! Imagine how limiting that is.

Sarcopenia also increases your risk for falling. One-third of all Americans over 60 report a fall every year, and falling is the No. 1 reason for injury-related death.

It is safe to say that loss of muscle mass creates a world of havoc as it can affect walking, balance, inflammation, insulin resistance, drops in testosterone and estrogen levels and pulmonary issues. Increases in chronic diseases such as heart disease and Type II diabetes are also linked.

I know this is depressing, but please keep reading because there is good news. Sarcopenia can be halted and even reversed by weight training.

Experts recommend that older adults dealing with sarcopenia work ALL the major muscle groups of the body at least two times per week. This practice preserves existing muscle mass and creates new muscle fibers. Frailty is not a certainty.

I know that weight training might sound daunting for those who are already dealing with some level of disability, or are just not accustomed to gyms. If this is the case, I would encourage a visit to the Equipped Fitness Room at the Westlake Community Services Building (on the campus of the Westlake Recreation Center).

This room was designed just for you. Membership is exclusive to just those 50 and over. No need for gym intimidation. The modestly sized room is always staffed by recreation department fitness personnel, who provide equipment orientation and assistance. 

The Keiser brand strength equipment is particularly age-friendly with a machine for all the major muscle groups. Choosing and adjusting your resistance happens at the touch of your hands, ensuring a safe and effective work out every time. Also noticeably different is the pneumatic resistance technology. It provides a reduced shock load to connective tissues and joints while effectively engaging your muscles during the entire range of motion. Folks who have chronic arthritis or knee and hip issues particularly appreciate this.   

This room does accept Silver Sneakers and Renew Active, you will just need to take some time at the front desk getting registered prior to your initial visit. If you do not have Silver Sneakers or Renew Active, but are a member of the Westlake Recreation Center you can add this facility to your membership with a $50 upgrade. If you are a Westlake resident and not a Recreation Center member, the membership fee is $75 for the year, or $100 for non-residents.   

The Westlake Community Services department is located at 28975 Hilliard Boulevard in Westlake. We are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Stop by and we will give you a tour. Our mission is to engage, enrich and empower those we serve, especially older adults and Westlake residents in need. While some services are resident specific, you do not need to be a Westlake resident to partake in the Fifty-Plus activities.

Our phone number is 440-899-3544. Check out our newsletter and website or visit our Facebook page. Hope to see you soon!


Lydia Gadd and Donna Feorene

this article was co-written by Lydia Gadd, Director of the Westlake Community Services Department and Donna Feorene, Outreach Coordinator of the Westlake Community Services Department

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 10:54 AM, 04.05.2022