What is Sarcopenia?
Sarcopenia is an age-associated, degenerative disease involving a loss of muscle mass and strength – this meaning there is a reduction in the number of muscle fibres within our muscles, and the size of those muscle fibres begin to decrease, and so our strength decreases. It hinders physical performance; causing poor gait, balance and overall function. It is one of the main contributors to musculoskeletal impairments in the elderly and coincides with frailty and an increased risk of falls. Research suggests the degenerative disease affects ~30% of older adults, both male and female, and the reduction of muscle mass begins at around 40 years of age, with an 8% loss of muscle mass per decade until the 70 years of age, where the degradation increases to 15% per decade.
So, what causes sarcopenia?
- Sedentary lifestyle causes muscles to shrink
- Poor nutrition; not consuming enough protein or calories to sustain muscle mass
- A reduction in nerve cells responsible for sending signals from the brain to the muscles to start movement
- Having a reduction in hormones
- The ability to turn protein into energy for movement decreases
How can we manage sarcopenia?
- Strength training is one of the most recognised management strategies for sarcopenia, as it helps build muscle size and increases strength
- This can be anything from body-weight, resistance bands, weights or resistance machines
- It can help with your neuromuscular system, hormone levels and can also improve your ability to convert protein into energy
- Exercise guidelines recommend 2 or more days a week (targeting the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)
- Is essential for muscles to grow and repair
- Should take up around 15-20% of your daily calorie intake
- The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for 18+ years is 0.84 grams per kilogram of body-weight for males, and 0.75 g/kg for females, however, it is suggested older adults should be consuming around 1.0 g/kg
- Foods include: lean meat, poultry and fish, eggs and dairy products (milk, yoghurt, cheese), seeds and nuts, beans and legumes (lentils, chickpeas) and soy products such as tofu
If you have any questions come and find me in the gym!