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Sarcopenia

Posted by : Prince, 01 Jun 2011 05:29 PM
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By:
Dr. Kavita Lulla,
Physiotherapist
Phone: 022-24451515
Email:info@hindujahospital.com

Sarcopenia is a fancy word for not exercising. Sarcopenia is an age related loss of muscle mass which can occur even in fit individuals, however physically inactive adults will see faster & greater loss of muscle of mass. Women face greater risk than men because women have less muscle mass to begin with. Sarcopenia is loss of muscle mass and obesity is increase in fat percentage. Obesity and sarcopenia are interrelated. In some cases sarcopenia is genetic where individual is born with low muscle mass. The effect of the combination of two conditions (obesity and sarcopenia) is devastating. Obesity causes other problems like diabetes, hypertension, joint pain etc. After 45 yrs, lack of exercises results in loss of muscle mass leading to further obesity. This further leads to decrease activity, lethargy, eventually more muscle loss and person becomes ultimately dependent even for performing daily activities.

The stoop posture that many people adopt is due to loss of skeletal muscle of the spine, shoulders & back. The unsteadiness caused by muscle wasting in legs increases the risk of falls & a person might suffer a fracture of the hip. Post operative recovery takes longer time as there is no muscle mass to build on.

Even if our weight doesn't change as we get older our body composition does, we have more fat & less muscles. Maintaining your body weight perfectly over time does not mean muscle isn't vanishing.

Sarcopenia generally starts at 45 when muscle mass begins to decline at the rate of about 1 percent per year resulting in less muscle strength. Studies have shown that muscle strength declines by approximately 15% per decade in sixties & seventies & 30% there after.

Though sarcopenia has no noticeable symptoms person may present with easy fatigability, difficulty in carrying out the same routine activities which were easier earlier, dull aches and pains after activity, flabby muscles etc.

As strength declines ability to carry out daily activities decline. As great deal of physical effort is required to perform daily task one naturally avoids it, which creates even more weakness. Lack of adequate protein intake in older individuals may aggravate Sarcopenia.

Can Sarcopenia be treated or prevented?
Proper protein intake along with fiber & vitamins like A, C & E are antioxidants, D & K helps to improve osteoporosis.Vitamin B12 helps to boost the nervous system. One must also ensure glucose levels in optimum range of 70 to 105mg/dl after eating.

A powerful intervention in prevention & treatment of sarcopenia is resistance training (weight lifting & strength training.) Older population prefer aerobic activities like walking as it does not require a lot of planning while one has to set aside extra time for weight training. Walking, while it strengthens the heart, & lungs it is not sufficient to prevent Sarcopenia.

It is strongly recommended that one seeks professional advice from a Physical Therapist or trainer before beginning a resistance training or programme. Lifting too much weight at one go can result in torn muscles leading to further weakness. Current studies have shown that by resistance training strength could be doubled in only 12 weeks of training& even frail old adults could built muscle & strength. As little as half an hour of resistance training is sufficient to see significant results.

Improvement in muscle mass means more stability & balance thereby preventing falls. One also builds vigor & self esteem & thus lead an active life doing things they enjoy. Good muscle mass also increases the ability to fight illness. Sarcopenia reduces the amount of protein to fight diseases.

"IF YOU DON'T USE IT YOU LOSE IT".

When we don't use our muscles we lose independence & quality of life diminishes.
Length of life is insignificant without quality .
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