As we leave September, I will speak about a condition known as sarcopenia. “Sarcopenia” is defined as age-related lean muscle loss. As we age, many of us have difficulty maintaining lean muscle mass. This condition results in the inability of our body to burn fat, which leads to decreased muscle strength, problems with mobility, frailty, and weak bones (osteoporosis).
The condition could cause an increase in accidents involving falling, proneness to experiencing fractures, decreased activity levels, diabetes, middle‐age weight gain and a loss of physical function and independence. Research indicates that approximately 45% of the aging population is affected by sarcopenia.
Preserving the independence and physical function of the aging population not only preserves the quality of life of older individuals but also saves our nation billions of dollars in health care costs. Studies have shown that our muscles normally grow larger and stronger until we reach our thirties. In our 30s, sarcopenia often appears. Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. Sarcopenia may appear, however, even if we are active.
The incidence of sarcopenia typically increases as we reach our mid-60s and has even begun to appear in others as late as in their 80s. Many researchers believe that one of the major causes of this condition, is the result of not getting enough calories or protein each day to help sustain muscle mass. Raising our protein intake level through nutrient-dense nutrition and distributing our protein intake throughout the day is crucial.
Balanced nutrition is only one part of an effective treatment to overcome sarcopenia. Proper exercise regimen is the second important part, especially “resistance” and “strength” training which increases both muscle strength and endurance through the use of weights and resistance bands.
Working out daily and aerobic and flexibility training are other important features of an effective exercise regimen. The objective is not to solely burn calories, but to also boost our body’s metabolism and response to exercise through recovery and rebuilding.
I invite you to share my journey, to a better “you” and a better “us.”