Sarcopenia – The Osteoporosis Of Our Muscles
WHAT IS SARCOPENIA?
Sarcopenia is the age-related loss of muscle fibres (i.e. a decrease in mucle mass or lean body tissue) and strength. Sarcopenia is sometimes described as the osteoporosis of our muscles and is a contributor to falls, frailty, and mortality.
WHY SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED?
If in your retirement and older years you would you like to,
- Be living in your own home?
- Be actively involved in community/volunteer work?
- Pursue active hobbies like gardening?
- Take grandchildren on day excursions/holiday?
You need to be aware that large studies have shown sarcopenia affects 20% of 60-70 year olds and almost 50% of those over 75 years.
Our muscles are made up of 2 main types of muscle fibres – fast twitch and slow twitch. These muscle fibres atrophy or waste away. It appears fast twitch fibres are more affected but neither muscle fibre type is immune.
WHY ARE FAST TWITCH FIBRES MORE PRONE?
These are the muscle fibres that are involved with power, speed and explosive movements. Activities we participate in less as we age. Slow twitch fibres are more involved with lower intensity, endurance activities.
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
A number of factors combine to cause sarcopenia. They include,
- A decrease in hormone levels
- Poor nutrition
- A decrease in protein synthesis
- Changes at a motor unit/neuromuscular level.
There are still many unknowns and it is believed there are other contributing factors. To read more,
WHAT CAN I DO TO PREVENT IT?
Resistance exercises. Perhaps the most important step to preventing sarcopenia is to follow a regular strength-training program. This means lift weights and/or engage in resistance exercises (e.g. bodyweight squats and pushups). Our exercise physiologist can assist with developing the right program for you – without lots of equipment! You will find the benefits of strength training go beyond sarcopenia prevention. A larger muscle mass is associated with improved joint function and relief from arthritis pain.