AGING AND THE MUSCULAR SYSTEM
With age, muscle cells die and are replaced by fibrous connective tissue or by fat. Regular exercise, however, delays atrophy of muscles. Although muscles become slower to contract and their maximal strength de-creases, exercise can maintain muscle functioning at a level that meets whatever a person needs for daily activities. The lifting of small weights is recom-mended as exercise for elderly people, women as well as men. Such exercise also benefits the cardiovascular, respiratory, and skeletal systems.
The loss of muscle fibers also contributes to a loss of proprioception, because the brain is getting less information about where and how the body is posi-tioned. The loss of muscle sense contributes to unsteadiness in elderly people and to an impaired sense of balance, which in turn may lead to a fall. Simple awareness of this may help an elderly person prevent such accidents.
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