What is Sarcopenia?

 

Most people are aware of the concept, “if you don’t use it, you lose it”.

Today I want to dive into sarcopenia, which is age induced muscle wasting. Sarcopenia isn’t a term that many people know or associate with, but they should. 

Sarcopenia is associated with reductions in muscular strength, power and the ability to tolerate manual tasks or activities of daily living. You are all likely to have a family member who has lost their capacity to move independently, often very quickly after surgery or a fall.  This tends to occur because their body simply wasn’t strong enough prior to the incident and as a result are unable to cope.  After the incident, their strength further deteriorates and their functional capacity drops rapidly, which can lead to a loss of independence and an increased reliance on their family to look after them.  For another individual of the same age who is strong prior to the incident, typically they recover well and despite the set-back are able to rehabilitate themselves and get back to a decent level of function, if not the same or better than before.  The truth is that most people are not aware how low their functional capacity is until it’s too late.  If you aren’t maintaining your lean muscle mass during your lifespan, you will gradually lose your strength and functional capacity. Use this post as a wake up call.

The choices you make over your life can dramatically determine how independent and functional your movements are as you age and your capacity to cope with a sickness or incident if it was to occur.  Yes, ageing does make it harder to maintain our lean muscle mass, but this is even more reason to battle the potential losses and prevent or slow down the process considerably so that you can remain strong and independent into the decades that follow.

Muscle tissue is constantly adapting to the demands we place on it in life.  From age 50-60 the annual muscle mass loss can be 1-2%, with an annual strength loss of 1.5%.  This loss is maintained in the 60+ age group with a muscle mass loss of 1-2% a year and an annual strength loss of 3%.  These figures may not sound like much, but over time the numbers add up.  Inactivity and non-existent resistance training can significantly lead to a loss of independence as you age. 

Stay tuned for more blog posts on this topic where I’ll be discussing the links between sarcopenia with obesity and disease. The key takeaway here? Stay active throughout your life and begin to consider resistance training as part of your routine.

 

Cheers to movement, strength and well-being.

 

Ross Kinsella

APA Titled Sports Physiotherapist

 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1007/s13539-010-0014-2/full

 

 

 

 
Ross Kinsella