How Strength Training Can Prevent Sarcopenia

What is the impact of Sarcopenia?
What is the impact of Sarcopenia?

We are bombarded with so much conflicting information when it comes to health. We all know that we are mortal beings, but what we are not certain about is what adds to our longevity? Some people can’t have peace in their 50s and 60s due to various health issues. On the other hand, we hear about those who managed to finish a marathon or maintain a chiseled body in their 80s. What does this mean? Well, the experiences and lifestyles of these people can teach us that Sarcopenia can be prevented through fitness and regular physical exercise.

What is Sarcopenia?

Sarcopenia is a medical condition that signifies the decline of health. In other words, it is a sign of aging that includes a slow and gradual loss of muscle and skeletal mass after the age of 30. Sarcopenia affects all of us, not as a pathological change (syndrome or disease), but rather as a natural physiological change. The effects of Sarcopenia can be suppressed through strength training, enabling us to maximize our vitality.

Muscle Density

We lose more than half of our muscle mass by the time we reach our seventies. This explains why we easily get tired and feel weak as we grow older. Strength training will help you keep your muscles dense and active (and slow down the bone loss process), preventing the occurrence of Sarcopenia. According to a study conducted by the Northern Ireland Centre for Diet and Health (University of Ulster), for which 131 premenopausal and 82 postmenopausal women volunteered, the results showed that the relationship between relative skeletal muscle index (RSMI), bone mineral density (BMD) and the risk of osteoporosis can be very well mediated through participation in physical activities. The women who took part in this study noticed significant improvement of their hips and spine after the one-year strength-training program. The levels of testosterone, which is crucial for boosting metabolic activity and building lean mass, are on the increase with people who lift weights, which is another reason to master the deadlift and bench press.

Bone Density

During midlife, bone loss speeds up for both men and women. It is an unavoidable natural occurrence, so it’s something that you shouldn’t be scared of. However, you can fight it and postpone its effects. When it comes to bone density, male and female bodies differ. Men have a larger skeleton, thus bone loss starts later and progresses slowly. On the other hand, most women go through a period of rapid hormonal changes when they experience a significant and sharp drop in their estrogen levels. It is said that women, aged 65 to 70, who suffer a fracture around the hip-joint are more likely to die within a year than women of the same age who did not suffer a fracture.

Diet and Strength Training

A necessary part in the battle against Sarcopenia is diet. It enables us to improve our results and endure hardships by supplying our body with the best possible nutrients. Protein is the building block of a muscle. Therefore, have an adequate intake of protein every day so your muscles can regenerate.

As for creating your strength training program, there are two essential types of training – aerobic and resistance. Aerobic training, although great for flexibility, is not enough for preserving health of an aging adult. For completing the “age-defying” program you must perform resistance exercises. In this way, you will improve your posture, bone strength, and immune response. Find a training routine that suits you best in order to prepare your body against gradual degeneration.

Digital Health

Even though laziness is among the top “syndromes” today, caused by the digital revolution and high-tech gadgets that have seduced people, it can also help you live right and be active. There are various health and fitness apps that help you track your health and training progress and design your own exercising routine, as well as apps for exercise motivation. Laziness is a condition that can be treated much easier than Sarcopenia and it all depends on our perspective of it and the way we use these apps and gadgets.

Staying motivated to work out regularly, especially when you reach the old age, can be a problem. Some people simply need a little push in order to activate themselves and start working out, to maintain their health. If you are a 60-year-old reading this article, you wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t for technology, would you? Create a training and nutrition program, get on the course, and start moving. It will do you good.

Osteoporosis. An interview with an older patient about her new treatment options, exercise and use of dietary supplements!

Welcome to the latest in our ongoing series of PatientTalk.Org interviews.  Today we are


interviewing Elizabeth a 75 year old woman living in London, England who has been lucky enough to get a wide range of treatments which allow her to live a full life with Osteoporosis.  It is also worth mentioning that she suffers from Osteoarthritis.

We hope this interview will give you an idea about some of the options which are becoming more and more available to osteoporosis sufferers.

PatientTalk.Org:- How long have you had osteoporosis and what are your main symptoms?

Elizabeth:  In fact I can’t give a clear answer.  Twenty years ago when I was going through the menopause I was told that I was on the cusp of being diagnosed with osteoporosis.  Ten years later I tripped and broke my wrist.  A second scan revealed that my bone density appeared to be still in the range of normal for my peer group.  However at this stage I was given calcium and vitamin D tablets on a daily basis (which I still take).  Another ten years passed and I tripped once again running up some stairs and fractured the other wrist.  At this time  I was told that there was no point in another scan as two low-impact fractures at my age equalled osteoporosis.  I had been told that walking would help to maintain and strengthen my lower body bone density.  So I try and walk for at least one hour every day.

PatientTalk.Org:  So apart from the calcium and vitamin supplements what other treatments have you been offered?

Elizabeth:  Because I was aware that I’d lost a lot of upper body strength,  for example undoing jars became a real chore,  due to the broken wrists and open heart surgery which took place 25 years ago, I wanted some form of exercise which would improve my situation.  I was told by a friend that she was following a course of Nordic walking and this seemed to be the answer.

I contacted the local health service who were very helpful and invited me to a set of tests and check-ups to ascertain my suitability for a Nordic walking course.

They were happy for me to start the course but beforehand they wanted me to do a course of bone density exercises.  These took place at a course of  eight weekly sessions.  They consisted of a warm up, a series of about 10 different exercises each of 2 minutes, followed by a cooling down session.  They were supervised by exercise specialists who were extremely supportive.

During this course I learned of another 8 week course in Gold Zumba.  That is a type of Zumba more suitable for older people.  I’ve now been on the course for around 4 weeks.  And enjoy it.

PatientTalk.Org:  So what actually is Zumba?

Elizabeth:  I think it can be described as some form of dance which can be used as a fitness programme as well.  We are taught by a qualified instructor who specialises in Zumba as a therapy.  For me the combination of exercise with music means that I’m pushed just a little bit harder than other types of exercise.  This is good for co-ordination of the body and, in fact, my brain.  Zumba is great for balance as well.

PatientTalk.Org:  So have you noticed any improvements?

Elizabeth: This is difficult to say.  In fact it is not my main objective.  I am really looking to maintain my current body strength and flexibility.  I notice that as each session goes on that I’m more flexible and my balance is much better.

And I’m now in a position to start Nordic walking.

PatientTalk.Org: Are you using any other treatments?

Elizabeth:  I have now started a 3 year course of biannual subcutaneous injections for my osteoporosis.  There are other treatments but it was felt that my digestive system was not suitable for them.

PatientTalk.Org: What sort of medical education / advice were you give?

I was invited to a series of talks at either the hospital or local health centres by osteoporosis experts in

a)  General information about osteoporosis

b) Exercise and osteoporosis

c)   Diet and osteoporosis

PatientTalk.Org:What did you learn about diet and osteoporosis?

Elizabeth:  Apart from information about foods and drink which are particularly good for sufferers of osteoporosis which include dairy, lentils, fish and some vegetables,  we were advised that there were certain circumstances in which it was more efficacious to take the supplements.   These were not explained to me by my normal Doctor.    Indeed the supplements documentation contains only limited advice.  The lectures I attended however provided me with far clearer advice.  What concerns me is that many other people with osteoporosis are not getting the full benefits of the supplements they are taking.

PatientTalk.Org:Thanks very much for this.  Very useful for us and our readers.

So over to you.  What do you think of Elizabeth’s story?   It would be great if you could share your thoughts in the comments box below.  You might want to think in terms of the following questions:-

1) How long have you been diagnosed with  Osteoporosis?

2) What sort of treatments have you had and how effective have they been?

3) What sort of support did you receive in terms of education about the condition?

4) Do you feel you have been well advised regarding the use of supplements?

5) What sorts of exercise do you take for your osteoporosis?

Many thanks in advance!