ARE YOU DOING ALL YOU CAN TO FIGHT SARCOPENIA?
Sarcopenia is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, quality, and strength associated with aging.
“Sarcopenia, although age-related, is not due to the aging process itself…as we age, we generally become less active and engage in less demanding activities. The reduction in activity results in the loss of strength and muscle mass. This loss of strength and muscle mass makes physical activity and exercise more difficult, leading to a further reduction in muscle tissue. Due to this loss, we become even more sedentary, etc. The cycle continues into a downward spiral.”
-Ryan A. Hall, 2017, Sarcopenia and Exercise: Delaying the Onset of Age-Related Degenerative Disease, Exercise Science, LLC.
Sarcopenia is not only a condition of the advanced elderly but starts between the AGES OF 20 AND 30.
TO DATE, THE BEST TREATMENT FOR SARCOPENIA IS HIGH-INTENSITY STRENGTH TRAINING. Research consistently shows that high intensity resistance training can improve ALL of the degenerative conditions associated with age-related muscle loss.
WHY MUST IT BE HIGH-INTENSITY?
- Earlier studies on strength training to stem sarcopenia had shown just lukewarm results.
- Reason for the poor results was the very fear that pushing older people too hard would be bad for them.
- Subjects were lifting weights that were too light for them so their muscles weren’t being stimulated to grow.
- Once high-intensity workouts were applied, major increases in muscle and strength were shown.
- “At a high enough intensity, you get microscopic tears in muscle,” says Dr. William Evans, PhD, formerly of Tufts University and now based at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. “The muscles rebuild protein, and that makes the cell stronger.”
- The Tufts researchers tried high-intensity strength training in one study in which participants lifted leg weights at levels closer to their maximum capacity. The volunteers, men who ranged in age from 60 to 72, not only completed the regimen safely but more than DOUBLED their leg strength in just 12 weeks of training.
- One effort, led by Tufts researcher Maria Fiatarone, MD, showed that even frail nursing-home residents in their 90s could build muscle and strength. Two study volunteers were even able to walk without needing their canes after the 8-week program.