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What Is Sarcopenia – And What Can You Do About It?

What Is Sarcopenia – And What Can You Do About It?

By Susan Williams

Do you know what sarcopenia is? If you’re aging (which means all of us), you probably should know what it is and what you can do to delay it.

To help us better understand this condition, Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer from Revera  joined us for a Learning Bites episode to help us increase our knowledge of what sarcopenia is and provides some suggestions on what we can possibly do to delay it.

Here is our conversation:

These are the highlights of our discussion;

  • Sarcopenia is a term associated with some syndromes as they relate to frailty as a part of aging. Basically it means a loss of muscle mass / strength as a result of aging.
  • People generally tend to begin to lose muscle mass around the age of 40 and there are some studies that suggest that it can happen as early as the age of 30. After the age of 50, we tend to lose 1 – 2% of our muscle mass per year which equates to about 1.5 to 5% of our overall strength.
  • Anyone who is aging is at risk of experiencing sarcopenia. There are some factors that contribute to this – loss of hormones (testosterone, estrogen), insulin resistance, deficiency factors (vitamin D and calcium), metabolic changes (motor neurons decrease), and diseases and drugs.
  • Symptoms to be watched for – early fatigue, gait impairments, difficulties getting up a flight of stairs can all be indicators of muscle and strength loss.
  • The loss of strength and poor balance is often associated with falls. About 30% of people over the age of 65 fall every year  in Canada – resulting in 27,000 to 30,000 hip fractures every year. Hip fractures are a major problem for older adults because 20% of these people will die within the first year and even those that survive will not return to the level of their previous function.
  • There is no quick fix however there are things you can do now to delay this condition;
    • Exercise – particularly strength and balance training is very important to maintaining muscle mass.
    • Diet – you need to ensure that you are eating enough protein in your diet is extremely important. The recommendation is from 1 – 1.2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight and that the protein is spread out throughout the day rather than just at one meal. There are many sources of good protein – meat, eggs, dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese), nuts and seeds and legumes. Also avoid processed foods and make sure that you are getting enough vitamin D and calcium (ideally from your diet).

So as much as we can’t possibly avoid sarcopenia – there are some actions we can take today to help delay it’s onset. Everything seems to always come back to diet and exercise!

This information is provided for strictly informational purposes only. You should always consult with your doctor or other healthcare professional regarding your personal situation.

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.