Hello everybody! Welcome back to my blog. The purpose of this blog is to help people find their way to a healthier lifestyle. I mostly talk about exercise, nutrition and the science behind them, which are my areas of expertise, but I also talk about sleeping habits, minimalism and many other subjects related to wellbeing and healthy lifestyle.
Today the post is going to be an introduction to a very common condition: Sarcopenia. In future posts I will dig deeper on this subject as it is very interesting and has more to it than what we’re going to talk about today. The word Sarcopenia comes from the Greek ‘sarx’ or ‘sark’ which means flesh, and ‘penia’ which means poverty, together meaning “poor flesh”. This terminology very accurately defines what sarcopenia means: the loss of skeletal muscle mass. Alongside this loss of muscle mass, sarcopenia causes fast-twitch fibres, the ones that makes our movements more powerful, to be lost at a greater rate than slow-twitch fibres. This means that not only do we grow weaker but we also get slower. It’s generally related to the process of ageing. It normally starts at age 35 at a rate of 1-2% per year. Once we turn 60, the rate goes up to 3% per year. For women this process gets accelerated during and after menopause due to a decline in oestrogen levels. Oestrogen is an important steroid hormone in charge of developing and maintaining the female characteristics. It also plays an important role in bone and muscle health. Menopause occurs around the age of 45 to 55.
As a result of this, people who suffer from sarcopenia find it very hard to cope with simple every day tasks: walking, sitting down and standing up, cleaning, gardening, shopping, care for loving ones, getting dressed. They become dependent, which puts a lot of pressure on their families and the overall health system. Furthermore, the likelihood and damage caused by falling due to weaker muscle dramatically increases as we get older. Elderly people are more likely to fall due to a lost of balance (sometimes provoked by sarcopenia). These falls result in bone fractures, permanent disabilities, or even death if there are complications. This just puts more pressure on the health system.
Other conditions like malnutrition or diseases such as cachexia or arthritis rheumatoid can cause an earlier development of sarcopenia. But ageing and disease are not the only causes of sarcopenia. Younger people can suffer from this condition if there is a lack of resistance training (this is, lifting weight whether they do it with external load or their own weight) or a poor diet.
Before continuing with sarcopenia, I would like to define what diet means. Diet in Greek means “way of life”. The modern languages have taken this word and completely change the original meaning to associate diet with a particular way of eating, normally temporarily, with the goal of losing or gaining weight or for any medical reason. When I say diet I mean the Greek way. But that’s a subject for another post.
Sarcopenia is an involuntary process that even the healthiest people may suffer from. There is, however, something we can do to prevent it. Many studies have shown how exercise is the number one method to prevent and improve the symptoms of sarcopenia, especially resistance training. It’s of great importance to do resistance training during your entire life to build up that strength and develop stronger, faster muscles. People who do resistance training have a better muscle strength reserves that play to their benefit, making it easier to fight sarcopenia when they get older, staying stronger for longer. The good news is, it is not a deal breaker if you haven’t done resistance training your entire life. Even if you want to start doing resistance training once you have started noticing the symptoms of sarcopenia, the chances of reversing it and build up your muscle strength are very high.
Resistance training is a fundamental strategy to reduce sarcopenia and bone density loss for women in their menopause years. It’s certain that every woman who reaches the age of 45 to 55 will pass through menopause and will be at risk of losing muscle mass. Resistance training is the most important type of exercise to prevent the effects of sarcopenia, alongside impact training such as running or CrossFit to stop bone density loss.
This is a topic that I am very passionate about because it really does affect ourselves and everyone we love around us. Furthermore, it’s a topic where action can be taken from today and a real difference can be made. I will dig deeper on this topic in later posts and discuss more ways to grow older healthier.
That’s it for today! I really hope that you enjoy it. If you like what I do and you want to support this project, follow me on Instagram and Facebook, like the post and comment! Should you have feedback you’d like to leave, a comment to share with me, or a cool idea for a post, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
One thought on “SARCOPENIA: AN INTRODUCTION”