Understanding Sarcopenia

As we grow older, the size and strength of our muscles progressively deteriorates.

This can affect your capacity to perform everyday activities like standing up from a chair, climbing stairs or carrying groceries.

For some people, muscle wasting becomes more severe, leading to falls, frailty, immobility and a loss of autonomy.

People who experience a marked loss in their muscle mass, strength and function may be suffering from a major but poorly recognized muscle-wasting condition called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is to your muscles what osteoporosis is to your bones.

What causes sarcopenia?

Aging disrupts the body’s ability to produce the proteins needed to grow & maintain muscles. As we age, fewer signals are also sent from the brain to the muscles, leading to a loss in the mass and size of our muscles.

Other causes of sarcopenia may include:

• Physical inactivity
• Malnutrition
• Changes in hormones like testosterone and growth hormones
• Increased inflammation
• The presence of other age-related diseases

Who gets sarcopenia?

It’s been estimated that sarcopenia affects 10-30% of older adults living in the community, varying by age and ethnicity. This increases to around 40-50% in those aged over 80 or living in nursing homes, and up to 75% in older hospital inpatients.

Sarcopenia is most common in older people, but can also occur earlier in life. Muscle mass and strength can begin to decline as early as your 30s, and without intervention such as regular exercise, this loss accelerates with age. By the age of 70, up to half of muscle mass is lost and this is often replaced with fat and fibrous tissue, particularly in people who are inactive.

Regular physical exercise can provide “pharmacologic” benefits, particularly for treating age-associated frailty.

Exercise during youth and middle age reduces the risk of sarcopenia and positively predicts muscle strength and physical performance in older age. In a report by the Academy of Medical Sciences, Bailey and colleagues referred to exercise as the “miracle cure.”

Credit: The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. Exercise: The miracle cure and the role of the doctor in promoting it. https://www.aomrc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Exercise_the_Miracle_Cure_0215.pdf 

Don’t wait until you are experiencing signs of sarcopenia!
High Intensity Training will increase your lean muscle mass and help you maintain it as you age.