What is Sarcopenia and should I be worried?

When was the last time you moved? Away from the screen, out and about, just enjoying some light activity? If you have to think about the answer, you could be at risk of sarcopenia. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, less than 5% of adults engage in at least half an hour of physical excursion per day. While we are often told of the risks this poses in our mid-life, the strain it can put on our bodies in later years is rarely spoken of.


Sarcopenia is a condition that causes people to lose their muscle mass with age. On average, it is between 30 and 40 years of age that a person will start to lose their muscle mass – up to a shocking 3-5% per decade. This can reach chronic levels around the age of 75. As we age, we become more susceptible to such conditions ac sarcopenia for a variety of reasons – a poor diet, lack of activity, or a chronic illness or injury that can almost completely immobilise someone. One major reason for people over 60 to suffer from sarcopenia could be the contraction of dementia. There are 9.9million new cases of dementia each year, and depending on the severity, it can massively alter a person’s lifestyle.


Even if a person with dementia was relatively healthy in their earlier life, suddenly switching to a more sedentary lifestyle could lead to an advancement of sarcopenia, which in turn could exacerbate their symptoms of dementia and put them more at risk for falls. Most families do not trust an elderly relative to be able to exercise regularly without hurting themselves, but in fact the opposite is true. As long as people are as active as their bodies will allow, their health and wellbeing is likely to improve.


There are several ways we can fight sarcopenia as we age. A healthy, protein heavy diet can aid muscle regrowth and regeneration, giving the patient more strength to increase their levels of activity. For some, a personally tailored medication plan may also become essential. Some women who are going through the menopause may find that HRT helps them to reduce belly fat and improve lean muscle. Those suffering from an injury may find that Urocortin II could help them to ward off muscular atrophy. As with everything, a balance is important for a well-rounded and healthy lifestyle.


 Author: Jay Sandwood