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Niggling back pain? Aching knees? There is evidence to show human bodies begin to break down from as early as your 30s. Regular exercise can help delay this process.

From the day we are born until we reach our 30s, human muscles grow larger and stronger. Muscle strength and size tends to peak in our 20s – which explains why elite athletes such as football players, sprinters and swimmers tend to peak in their careers at this age too.

But what goes up must come down. At some point in our 30s, our bodies slowly begin to lose muscle mass and function in a natural aging process known as sarcopenia.

A 2013 study published in the peer-reviewed Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons Journal, which conducted a thorough literature review into sarcopenia as well as studying muscle development in 26 people aged between 30 and 60, found this process accelerates when we reach our 50s and beyond. A 2016 Harvard Men’s Health Watch article noted that people who were physically inactive could lose as much as 3 to 5 per cent of their muscle mass per decade after age 30.

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