Sarcopenia is a degenerative musculoskeletal disorder characterised by low muscle strength and muscle quantity and/or muscle quality. It is associated with low physical activity.
We could sum it up with the saying: ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it.’ Age-related muscle loss, also called sarcopenia, is a natural part of aging. From the age of 30 onwards you begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade. Most men will lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lifetimes. Less muscle means greater weakness and less mobility, both of which may increase your risk of falls and fractures.
Current research shows that people with sarcopenia have increased risk of falls, fractures, physical disabilities, poor quality of life and shorter life span.
Does sarcopenia just affect older people?
Although sarcopenia has been associated with aging and the elderly, its development is known to begin earlier in life.
The 5 main symptoms of sarcopenia are:
- Muscle Weakness
- Slow Walking Speed
- Self-Reported Muscle Wasting
- Difficulty Performing Normal Daily Activities
What is known to contribute to sarcopenia?
- Malnutrition – under-nutrition or malabsorption, obesity, medication-related anorexia
- Ageing – age-associated muscle loss (as stated above from the age of 30)
- Systemic inflammatory conditions such as autoimmune conditions, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Physical inactivity due to sedentary lifestyle or health condition causing limited mobility or bedrest.
How can you treat sarcopenia?
- Musculoskeletal therapy and medical training therapy
- Natural medicine
- Exercise programs
Studies show sarcopenia can be reversed, and muscle loss decreased. A healthy diet and resistance exercise can reverse sarcopenia, which increases lifespan and improve quality of life.
One of the bodies main priorities is to rebuild so this means luckily, the loss of muscle mass is mostly reversible. Many experts recommend resistance and weight training as the best ways to rebuild muscle. In addition to building muscle mass, this type of exercise increases bone mass, which is another key to remaining mobile as you age.
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