Phil Carville: Combat losing muscle mass by lifting weights |

Phil Carville: Combat losing muscle mass by lifting weights

Phil Carville

What in the heck is “Sarcopenia” and why should we care about it?

Well, the general definition of sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass related to normal aging. There is no test for a specific level of muscle mass that will diagnose sarcopenia. Any loss of muscle matters because it lessens strength, balance, and mobility.

The onset of sarcopenia begins in your early 30s and accelerates after age 65, which directly leads to increased hospitalizations, disability, and death, due in part by contributing to falls, fractures, and frailty in the elderly. Nevada County’s rapidly expanding aging population magnifies the importance of this issue in our community.

Here is why it is important to you at any age.

After 30

From the time you were born to around the time you turn 30, your muscles grow larger and stronger. Around your mid-30, you start to lose muscle mass and function. You can lose as much as 3% to 5% of muscle mass each decade after age 30.

Persons who are inactive will lose even more muscle mass.

After 60

By your mid-60s you probably lost 15% of the muscle mass that you had at age 30. Sarcopenia accelerates around age 75 but may also speed up as early as age 65. By age 80, you may of have lost 50% of your former strength. This is a major factor in frailty, loss of balance and the likelihood of falls and fractures in older adults.

This issue is particularly important for Nevada County because 28% of our residents are over the age of 65, compared to the state average of 14%. We are one of the oldest counties in California.

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among adults age 65 or older… these are deaths directly from the fall. But there are indirect deaths as well. If an elderly person falls and fractures a hip, there is a 21% chance that he/she will die within one year. These are significant public health problems.

A Remedy

The primary treatment for sarcopenia is exercise, specifically resistance training or strength training. The simple prescription is “lift some weights”.

Lifting weights rebuilds your neuromuscular system, releases beneficial hormones, strengthens bones, improves mental health, and can even improve an older adult’s ability to convert protein to energy in as little as two weeks. Yes… two weeks.


Use dumbbells, barbells, exercise machines or any device that puts stress on your muscles and bones. The proper number, intensity, and frequency of resistance exercise is important for getting the most benefit. Work with a certified trainer or experienced physical therapist to develop an exercise plan suited to you.

Lifting is an enjoyable process. Your physical body and mental outlook will improve. Learn to master the universal rules: “Practice good posture, relax, slow down, concentrate, breathe, take a day off.”

Warm up before each session and after your workout take five to 10 minutes of light cardio to ensure maximum benefit from your strength training.

It is your life… get the most out of it and make it matter to the world… because you matter to the world.

Phil Carville is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club. He is happy to respond to questions or comments. You can contact him at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User