Have you ever heard of the term Sarcopenia? If your answer to this question is no, or if you have heard of it but don’t really know much about it, I urge you to take 5 minutes out of your day and read on as knowing about this could have a massive impact on the quality of your life over the next 10-30 years (depending on your age just now).
Sarcopenia has been defined as an age related, involuntary loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. For most people it starts somewhere between the age of 30-40 years old. Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after 30. Evidence suggests that skeletal muscle mass and skeletal muscle strength decline in a linear fashion in the inactive with up to 50% of mass being lost by the age of 80!
Symptoms of sarcopenia can include
- Muscle Weakness.
- Slow Walking Speed.
- Self-Reported Muscle Wasting.
- Difficulty Performing Normal Daily Activities.
- Loss of stamina
Ok I hope this has gotten your attention and you are now wondering “What can I do to slow down the impact sarcopenia will have on me?”
The primary treatment for sarcopenia is exercise, specifically resistance training or strength training. These activities increase muscle strength and endurance using weights or resistance bands.
For many people the thought of starting to lift weights at this stage in their life can seem pretty daunting. However it does not have to be this way. Done properly a strength workout should be achievable and enjoyable. If you haven’t done strength training in a while the main thing to think about is to start at the level you are currently at. Much of the problems occur when people start at a level too high for them and end up getting hurt or are turned off by exercise altogether.
Tips on how to start resistance training
- First of all, aim to stimulate not annihilate the muscles!
- Train movements not muscles. Don’t train like a bodybuilder. Where possible, do full body exercises rather than isolation exercises.
- Aim to train within the muscle building rep range of 8-12 reps for most of the time.
- Aim to do a quality strength session 2-3 times per week.
- Even if you have joint pain you can still do some level of resistance training. You can use resistance bands; bodyweight and remember there is usually always an alternative exercise if something is painful.
- If not knowing how to do strength training is what’s stopping you, I would recommend getting a coach who will be able to show you the basics to make sure you can train safely and at the appropriate level for you. When we did a study of our client base, one of the top reasons for people putting off strength training was a fear of getting hurt and another was a fear of looking silly because they don’t know what they are doing, or they are just too unfit to do it. A coach coach will help you overcome all these barriers
I really hope this brief overview on sarcopenia has been helpful and has highlighted to you the importance of strength training as we get older. The great thing is building muscle and strength is possible for almost everyone of all ages, gender and ability level and does not have to be a big time commitment each week.
PS If you have heard me speak or read my blogs you will have heard me go on about the importance of eating a high protein diet as we get older. Staving off sarcopenia is one of the leading reasons for this, as protein is the key building block for muscle.
So aim to hit your protein targets most days and try and try and get protein in most of your meals as this will provide a steady flow of proteins for the body to work with.
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