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Sarcopenia – Why You Should Be Concerned

Home » » Sarcopenia – Why You Should Be Concerned

Starting in our mid-thirties, most of us lose a percentage of our muscle mass every year. This age-related decline in muscle mass is called sarcopenia and has been associated with decline in our physical performance (walking speed, getting out of chairs, balance, lifting things) as well as the overall longevity of our lives. A lot of great news here! 
The good news is that this can be reversed-no matter how old we are. Read below to find out more.

We are all getting older-there is nothing we can do about that. However, there are many things we can do to make sure that we are living well into our middle and later years. Taking the steps to combat the effects of sarcopenia is one of the most important things you can do.

As a physical therapist, my goal is to help people improve the length of their health span-how many years they live healthy. It should be a goal of all of us to not just live long, but to live long well. Unfortunately, the effects of sarcopenia can have a negative effect on our ability to do that. if you are a middle-aged athlete, you may find you cannot run as fast or long as you used to, the power you produce with cycling is not what you used to be able to put out, or things that used to be easy to lift when you are younger are now more challenging. As an older adult, you may find getting up stairs our out of chairs is harder. Maybe you walk slower and your balance is a bit off. What’s worse is that if you have been laid up because of pain, injury, illness, or surgery you have likely noticed that many of the things you used to do are harder (or you can’s do them at all!).

The good news is that the effects of sarcopenia can be slowed down and even reversed-no matter how old you are. This can be accomplished by making sure that strength training is a consistent part of your weekly routine. It is so important that I make sure that every person that I work with is set up on a program to make sure they are doing something to improve their muscle mass and strength.

So what stops most people from doing this? For most of the people I see, it is a history of dealing with pain or injury. Because something hurts, they are hesitant to do things that help maintain their strength and quality of life. With treatment to help with pain, combined with the right type of exercises and education,  most find that they can actually progress very well and do more than they thought they could. I have seen this in patients with knee and hip arthritis, back problems, shoulder pain, and neck and headache pain. 

Another reason people do not do regular strengthening is not knowing how. They may know it is good for them, but have never done it before and don’t know where to start. Or, maybe the gym setting is not “their thing.” This is why I offer small group exercise classes and personal training sessions. I am able to help them get started, make sure they are doing things correctly, and help them build a habit that will have a profound effect on their health.

Lastly, many people have a belief that they are too old to lift weights or to gain any strength. This has been disproved by research. In one study, a group of people older than 90 were started on a 2x per week strength program and all of them displayed improved strength, balance, and walking speed after 12 weeks. Most of you reading this are not 90, so if they can gain strength and function, so can you. Getting someone to help you out to stay injury free, do it right, and teach you how to progress is very important.

Sarcopenia sounds scary-and it is if you do nothing about it! With the right guidance, exercise programming, and motivation, you can however, limit its effects. If you have questions or need help getting started, do not hesitate to reach out for help, and we can work together to find a program that works for you-no matter where you are starting from. 

Thanks for reading,


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