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.

Are you happy for your health data to be shared? Find out how new data protection legislation might affect you

As concerns grow about how our information is being used, especially with the rise of interactive technology such as social media and apps which require the input of personal data, new rules and regulations are being put in place to keep users safe.

Healthcare and technology
Healthcare and technology

• The rise of health apps and wearable tech related to fitness and wellness and the use of the personal data inputted will see the EU introduce a law in 2018, which governs how organisations in Europe manage this sensitive data
• The definition for what constitutes health data currently encapsulates the type of information collected by wearables such as Fitbit, Apple Watch and health apps, potentially forcing it to be treated in the same strict manner reserved for medical records
• But there are calls for the EU to rethink the law with new research showing the majority of us would be happy for health data to be shared if it could be used by health professionals to recommend medication or for apps to alert them if their health is at risk
• Opponents say that at a time when the NHS is predicted to be staring at an annual deficit of £2bn, data-based healthcare could drive huge cost savings and also improve quality of life


Respected technology and life sciences law firm, Osborne Clarke, calls for action from EU regulators to re-think the impact of its forthcoming European General Data Protection Regulation on health data generated by wearable devices and apps. As it stands, the EU’s position will stifle innovation and cost national health providers tens of billions of Euros.

The call comes after the company’s new study found a growing majority of people are happy for data such as heart rate, body temperature and sleep patterns to be used in medication recommendations and virtual consultations.

Set to come into law in 2018, the Regulation governs how organisations in Europe manage sensitive data. The definition for what constitutes health data currently encapsulates the type of information collected by wearables such as Fitbit, Apple Watch and health apps, potentially forcing it to be treated in the same strict manner reserved for medical records.

Osborne Clarke today calls for greater clarity after its new research questioned over 4,000 people from around Europe on their views on the topic. It found 55% of people would be happy for things such as heart rate, sleep patterns, exercise regimes and other information about their bodies to be used to recommend medication. In addition, 62% said they would like to be actively alerted if the data predicted a serious health issue.

The study also showed that future generations are particularly open to the idea of data-based healthcare. When questioned, 68% of 18-24 year olds said they would be happy to be alerted to health issues, with 62% were also happy to be recommended medication from their wearable or health app.
The research also found nearly 40% of people would prefer a virtual consultation based on such data, instead of having to attend a GP surgery. This rises sharply again in younger generations, with over half preferring to see their doctor over the Internet.

At a time when The Government is looking to find a £10bn budget surplus over the next 5 years, the NHS is predicted to be staring at an annual deficit of £2bn. This research shows that people are open to the idea of data-based healthcare, which could drive such cost savings, whilst also improving quality of life.

Smart use of health data is way more than just mapping heart rates and running distances, it can save lives if allowed to be used correctly. Unfortunately, the forthcoming legislation has the potential to nullify the potential of such technology by being overly restrictive.

Patient Talk interviewed Jon Fell and Dan Sung to find out more.

Patient Talk – So the first question I have here is what are the legal requirements for medical database collection at present?

Jon Fell – I think that’s a very interesting question because you have to look at the type of data that’s involved, so at the moment all of your health data is censored if personal data and the requirement is that you have to get informed consent from each individual to collect that data and use that data. Now in many respects that doesn’t change with the new data protection legislation that’s coming into force in 2018 the big difference is that it will apply to all data rather than just sensitive personal data so there is an issue with the data collected by your fitness trackers because is that medical data or is that biometric data or is that just sort of personal data regarding the number of steps you have taken and everything else but the rules now will be changed so you have to get explicit informed consent from the individual before you can collect that data and use that data.

Patient Talk– Ok and how does the Safe Harbor process impact upon data held in the U.S?

Jon Fell – I think the whole point with the Safe Harbor is that there has been a recent decision in the E.U where the Safe Harbor system is no longer to be relied upon so we are in a state of flux on how that’s going to work, what we do have with the E.U is that a number of ways which data can be transferred outside of the EEA, one of those rules is that you have to have a country which has a finding that has an adequate state of privacy that safe guards privacy within that country , now that doesn’t apply to the U.S so the way you would have to deal with in the U.S is something that is known as the ‘model clauses ‘ so it’s not impossible to transfer data to the U.S but you have to go through certain hoops and steps to deal with that but the whole positions which was the case that determined harbour doesn’t work , was a big big issue for the industry as a whole and I think it’s something that we just have to watch and base on how it’s going to sort itself out.

Patient Talk– Ok and what question should patients be asking their G.PS?

Jon Fell – So what we need to understand is what data and how is it going to be used so if you go into a clinical trial they get you to sign all sort of forms that say ‘this is the data we are going to collect and this is how we are going to use it with other researchers that that information is useful to their research, here’s how it’s going to anonymised ‘ then you need to understand what the data is going to be useful you shouldn’t be frightened by that because a lot of this data is actually going to make the whole healthcare and the way in which you are treated much more efficient and much better for you so it’s a question about being sensible about what is going to be collected, why is it going to be collected and who’s going to have access to it.

Patient Talk- And what access do people have to their own medical records and can they challenge any inaccuracies?

Sung – Well as far as I’m aware people can have access to their medical records but then often by their G.P’s they are not encouraged too, there’s something of an information based symmetry when you go to a G.P whereby they have your medical information on their screen facing them and your sort of kept at a distance from that but hopefully that will be changing soon, there’s a lot of virtual doctor services which will encourage you to take hold of your medical information and use it as you need.

Jon Fell – There are stories out there and real life examples of people accessing their medical records and finding flaws within the information that’s stored and it actually can be very difficult to get that changed , there is the argument that it’s not for you to determine whether is incorrect or not but when I was listening to the radio they was talking about this lady who had on her record that she had broken a leg but that was 3 years before she was even born so it is likely wrong but in actual fact they couldn’t change those records and refused to do so, now that’s something that I think has to be addressed but it’s a difficult one because you can’t just change a record to say ‘ I had a problem with X Y Z in the past ´ you need to be able to have on there for your own treatment in the future and for people to understand the true history of your records.

Patient Talk– Ok and what can you tell us about the new EU data protection legislation and what does it actually mean?

Jon Fell – So the European regulation which is the general data protection regulation, it should all be finalised by the end of this year and come into force by 2018, it is different to anything that we have at the moment because as a regulation it has direct effect and what we mean by that is that you don’t have to have any local or putting in place data protection regime it will all become from this regulation, the big changes from the point of view of uses of wearable technology and for health and everything else is that the level of consent for data protection has gone up o it has to be consent from an individual which is freely given , it has to be specific, it has to be informed and it has to explicit so you can longer rely on the fact that people have been provided information , continue to use the service , continue to use the device for that to be applied consent. The other thing that I find really interesting about it is that they have addressed some of the issues of the modern day in relation to the portability of data in particularly your ability to move your data from one provider to another which I think is actually in the context of wearables it’s quite a big step forward.

Patient Talk– Ok and how will this effect different countries such as Germany, Spain and Poland in particular?

Jon Fell – Well that’s the whole point of the regulation is to have harmonisation in all of the countries because it is a regulation and because it directly to all EU members in exactly the same way there should be exactly the same rules in every country, at the moment the one thing what we don’t have is harmonisation as there are lots of different rules in every single jurisdiction.

Patient Talk – Ok so what rights do we have now and how can they be improved?

Jon Fell – We have a number of rights which are to understand and be told what data is going to be collected, how it is going to be used, we also have a right to inspect that data and to look at what data is going to be collected and how it’s been processed now none of that really changes the big difference is that the obligation is being tightened on the person who collects that data to get proper consent at the very beginning to give you the right information at the right time and that’s where the difficulty lays particularly with wearable devices in that how do you get detailed information about someone at the point of which they are just about to use the device.

Diabetes Week. Read our Diabetes FAQ with Dr Rob Hicks.


Dr Rob Hicks on diabetes
Dr Rob Hicks on diabetes
As many of you know by now this week is Diabetes Week. To help promote understanding and awareness of diabetes we have conducted this fascinating interview with TV’s Dr Rob Hicks.

PATIENTTALK.ORG: Ok so just to start, can you please tell me what diabetes is?

DR ROB HICKS: Well diabetes is a condition where basically there is too much glucose in the blood and the consequence of that is that the glucose damages the blood vessels in the circulation and it damages the nerves and if somebody has diabetes and it’s not properly treated or managed then there is a risk of damage to the circulation or the nervous system resulting in complications like heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and damage to the skin around the feet and indeed blindness which is why we make a big effort in healthcare to encourage people to watch out for the warning signs and indeed to get themselves checked to see if they have got diabetes.

PATIENTTALK.ORG: And can you explain the differences between the various types: type 1, type 2, and type 3, 1.5 and gestational diabetes

DR ROB HICKS: Yeah there are different types of diabetes, type 1 diabetes is where the body for some unknown reason turns on itself, it damages the pancreas which is the organ in the body which makes insulin such that a person really doesn’t have any insulin or at least they have a very tiny amount and that’s why people with type 1 diabetes need to have insulin usually by injections in order for them to remain fit and healthy. Type 2 diabetes which is the more common form of diabetes, it affects around 90% of people who have got diabetes, it happens when either there isn’t enough insulin or the insulin that is there doesn’t work properly so the body becomes resistant to the insulin and you also mentioned gestational diabetes and that diabetes that essentially develops for a woman when she is pregnant and that makes up about 5% of women who are pregnant will develop gestational diabetes.

PATIENTTALK.ORG: And what that just be in the period of the pregnancy or would that then turn into a different type of diabetes?

DR ROB HICKS: For the most part women who develop gestational diabetes once they have had their baby the diabetes disappears however saying that they are at a greater risk at developing type 2 diabetes later on in life so it would again be important to keep an eye on.


PATIENTTALK.ORG: What are the warning signs of diabetes?

DR ROB HICKS: Well there are symptoms for many people that act as warning signs I mean particularly for type 1 diabetes, they are passing urine more often particularly at night, feeling very thirsty despite drinking lots of liquid, feeling very tired or indeed losing weight when you are not trying too and one of the places I work is a sexual health clinic and we often see that people are get recurrent bouts of thrush infection despite the right treatment it comes back and get treated then comes back again , they often have underlying diabetes, another possible symptom is the slow healing of wounds or blurred vision. Now for someone with type 1 diabetes these symptoms become quite obvious and can happen over a couple of weeks. The challenge is that with type 2 diabetes which tends to affect more mature adults so traditionally over the age of 40 although it is possible to get type 2 diabetes earlier in life often the symptoms are not so obvious so somebody might get diabetes but may not get any symptoms which is why we encourage people to get tested, in face the current figures suggest that just short of 600,000 people in the UK have diabetes but are not yet aware of it because they haven’t been diagnosed so again this is why it’s important to get this checked , particularly if you have got diabetes in the family , if your over weight and if you are in an specific ethnic group so if you from south east Asia , Chinese , African Caribbean or black African origin then the risk of diabetes is greater in these groups so again it should prompt you to have a chat with your doctor about whether you should be tested.

PATIENTTALK.ORG: And what are the complications of diabetes in particular foot ulcers and sight problems?

DR ROB HICKS: Yeah I mean diabetes that is not treated or managed properly the damage to the heart and circulation is likely to increase the risk of someone having a heart attack or a stroke, the damage to the kidneys a form of kidney disease can happen, in men diabetes can also be the cause of erectile dysfunction, you also mentioned foot ulcers and because they are harder to treat and harder to heal or sometimes can be ignored for a while by an individual may result in amputation being needed off a foot or a lower limb. You mentioned the issues with sight, if diabetes isn’t treated properly it can damage the back of the eyes can damage the retina and indeed if that’s not treated properly then that can result in blindness.

PATIENTTALK.ORG: What treatments are available and how effective are they?

DR ROB HICKS: Well nowadays we have a host of treatments available, so everyone will be offered for type 1 insulin because they need it as they are not making any or are making very tiny amounts. For type 2 diabetes they will be advised to follow a healthy lifestyle such as losing some weight and being more active and there are different ways of achieving that so somebody might choose to use a health app for example. Who did a health report make health apps to help try and encourage people to adapt their lifestyle to healthy one and then there’s medications for people with type 2 diabetes and indeed some people with type 2 diabetes also need insulin to keep the condition under control.

PATIENTTALK.ORG: And what are the best ways of preventing diabetes/

DR ROB HICKS: With type 1 diabetes you can’t prevent it but thankfully with type 2 diabetes many people can prevent it and the best way really is to maintain a healthy weight, so lose weight that you need too to achieve a healthy weight and particularly try to get rid of the fat around your middle around your tummy as that alone increases the risk significantly of somebody being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

PATIENTTALK.ORG: And what advice would you give to somebody who has just been diagnosed with diabetes?

DR ROB HICKS: I think the advice I would give to somebody who has just been diagnosed with diabetes is to take it seriously, make sure that you seek the advice of your doctor / diabetes nurse, know that you can be in control of it I think I important and the control of it is extremely important to avoid the potential complications and if it means losing weight as it often does then choose a way that works for you , choose a way that suits you so that may be going for a brisk walk a day or a bike ride, it might be using a health app to motivate you and help you in a fun way monitor how well you are doing. I think that the bottom line increasingly we are seeing many people who are not following a healthy lifestyle I mean the Noom Report showed that around 1 in 3 people said that they never exercise and almost 2 in 5 said that they would wait till they have a health scare or a warning from their G.P before they did anything healthy or adopt a healthy lifestyle, I always say to people don’t wait get onto it and do it now whether you have got diabetes or not.

PATIENTTALK.ORG: That’s fantastic, Rob is there anything you would like to add at all?

DR ROB HICKS: I mean if people want to find out more about diabetes or whether they should be tested then obviously they can have a chat with their G.P or if they want to find out about Noom Then they can log onto noom.com/diabetes.

PATIENTTALK.ORG: Wonderful thanks so much for your time and for answering all of those questions.

DR ROB HICKS: Thank you, bye bye.

Is there an App for that Part One? Multiple Sclerosis and Smartphone Apps ( and not forgetting tablets). Which ones do you use?

Apps for Multiple Sclerosis
Apps for Multiple Sclerosis
Yes I know I keep on going on about how social media will change healthcare beyond all recognition. Indeed the reason you are reading this blog post is almost certainly because you have seen a link on some kind of social media.

But how does this fit into the day to day of actually having and managing a chronic medical condition. In fact I was challenged yesterday on this very subject online.

The correspondent said that they had yet to find an app for the multiple sclerosis community which was really useful. Which got me thinking. A quick blast on my iPhone got me links to more or less marketing puff. Not that i object to marketing puff but you know what I mean.

So I thought I would find out from my readers what Apps they uses to help treat or manage their multiple sclerosis.

I would be great if you could share your experiences in the comments box below. It would be great if you could think about some of the following questions:-

1) What is the name of the App you use? Do you have a link to more information?
2) What does the App set out to do?
3) How does it specifically help your multiple sclerosis?
4) Can you give it a mark out of 10 where 10 is brilliant and 0 is well you know?
5) If you can add anything you think will be of interest to our readers that would be superb.

Finally if you have written an App for MS or have one you think would be of use to a person with Multiple Sclerosis you are very welcome to add some information below. but please do state that you are a manufacturer just so we know.

Thanks very much in advance.

The Quantified Self Movement. Can you shed those pounds with the aid of the internet?


EyeA couple of mornings ago I received a text from my wife with a suggestion for a blog post.   She had been reading a magazine on the train which carried an article on the Quantified Self Movement.  Knowing my interest in social media and health she immediately thought of me.  Which is nice!

As regulars know I am firmly of the view that social media has the potential to (and in some cases actually is) revolutionising healthcare.  Often without the healthcare industry (or even the technology industry) being aware of the change.  For a previous blog on social media and health please have a look at http://patienttalk.org/?p=585.

I have to confess that I’d never come across the term “Quantified Self Movement “before but after a few minutes goggling I was fascinated by what I read.   So I felt that a brief blog was in order.  The aim is to introduce my readers to the concept but also to get feedback on the effectiveness of the method.

The title of the blog links the Quantified Self Movement to weight loss but it has many other applications.

The idea is that we can use technology to collect data about our healthand use that data to monitor our own health performance.   And thus to optimise the effectiveness of any interventions.

A simple example is weight loss.  By monitoring food intake, exercise and weight changes it is possible to provide a frame work for long tern weight loss.  What these various types of technology (such as smartphone apps) can do is to actually quantify (make sense of) the information collected.  Because the information is bespoke to you it helps you develop an optimum weight loss strategy.   I’m sure you have seen plenty of runners with various bits of tech strapped to their bodies which give then directly information on how they can improve their performance during the run.

Interestingly the Quantified Self Movement does not stop at technology.  Across the globe there are a huge number of MeetUps where people can share information and resources.  You can check out the different groups by location here http://quantified-self.meetup.com/.

But does it work?   Well the theory seems good to me and there are lots of claims, especially regarding weight loss, being made.  However there are critical voices; as this article in The Scotsman by Tiffany Jenkins makes clear http://www.scotsman.com/news/tiffany-jenkins-the-problem-with-quantified-life-1-3118718.

But as my old grandmother would say “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”.  I’m asking my readers to share their opinions in the comments section of this blog.  We are really interested in hearing your experiences of using technology for improving health via data collection.  You might want to think in terms of the following questions:-

a)      What were you trying to achieve through the process?  E.g.  weight loss

b)      What technology did you use?  E.g. Apps, web sites or sensors?

c)       How effective was the process?

d)      Can you see other applications for the Quantified Self Movement other than weight loss?

Thanks very much in advance for sharing your information.  I am really looking forward to reading your responses.