Monique Rana - Do you have Sarcopenia?

Publish Date
Friday, 30 August 2013, 12:00AM
By Monique Rana

What is Sarcopenia?
Think of it as the muscle equivalent of osteoporosis. Just as our bones tend to become weaker and more brittle as we get older, our muscles are predisposed to wither with age. Starting as early as age 30, muscle mass begins to decline by about 1 percent if no weight bearing or resistance training has been done. Human muscle undergoes constant changes. After about age 50, muscle mass decreases at an annual rate of 1–2%. Muscle strength declines by 1.5% between ages 50 and 60 and by 3% thereafter.

Is sarcopenia inevitable?
It’s not all doom and gloom –there is a bright side to this. Resistance/weight training has proven effective in decreasing the rate of sarcopenia, especially if it is implemented in the correct manner! If you exercise regularly (starting in your 30s), you can retain or regain your lost muscle tissue.  Even if you haven’t exercised before 30, you can recover from sarcopenia.

Strength training is the antidote
Most people over the age of 60 years are encouraged to walk for fitness, which is great, however this will not regain your lost muscle mass, which is what we are after.The primary treatment for sarcopenia is resistance training or weight training that increases muscle strength and endurance with weights or resistance bands. This has been proven to be useful for both the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia.

For optimal benefits with minimal risk of injury, slow controlled lifting and lowering of weight, intensity, and frequency of strength training is important. Intensity, in particular is what is needed to increase muscle in the shorter amount of time.
Older people should not be afraid to lift heavy weight.  If you are new to working out in the gym, then I suggest you should invest time with an experienced physical therapist or trainer to develop an exercise workout plan.

Optimum Nutrition for Sarcopenia
Research has shown that adults over the age of 30 yrs. may need more protein per kilogram than those younger to maintain proper levels that reinforce muscle mass.

A normal protein requirement is 0.8 grams per kilo of body weight. But to ensure optimum nutrition for older adults the recommended amount is 1.0- 1.2g/kg of protein per kilo of body weight. For example 70-kilo person would need 70 - 84 grams of protein each day.  

Good sources of proteins are lean red meats, poultry and fish, as well as eggs and dairy foods, are excellent sources of animal protein. Vegetable sources of protein include legumes (e.g. lentils, kidney beans), soya products (e.g. tofu), grains, nuts and seeds.

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