Sarcopenia: muscle wasting

Sarcopenia: muscle wasting

Have you found that lifting two full grocery sacks has become more difficult to do than in the past? What about doing things that were once relatively easy to do? Have some of them started to tax your strength and stamina? Are they now just plain hard to do?

This could be age related, a result of your muscle mass and strength beginning to diminish. In some extreme instances, this can lead to a loss of the function al ability to lead a normal life. Later on in life, your body composition begins to shift from lean muscle mass to less lean muscle mass. Generally the naturally occurring outcome is increased body fat. Your scales may still read the same as they did in high school but the tonus of your muscles is no longer ideal. You have replaced the muscle weight with fat.

Myth: Muscle does not turn to fat. The muscle atrophies and the weight you now see registering on the scale has been replaced by fat tissue.

Exercise is a necessary part of living a healthy life

Muscle mass decreases as we age, in fact it has been estimated that muscle mass decreases approximately one percent each year after we turn thirty years old.

The mayo clinic states that the percentage of females who are unable to lift over ten pounds between the ages of 55-64 is forty percent of the population and for those in the 63-74 age bracket these numbers rise only slightly to forty five percent. However, it gets much worse for the 75-84 year olds, where a full sixty five percent of them were unable to lift ten pounds.

Ten pounds is not much by any standard. This is getting close to not being able to lift a gallon of milk out of the refrigerator.

Muscle mass is critical to maintaining ones strength and balance. Without the strength to regain ones balance, the fall is inevitable. Losing weigh is harder for those with small percentages of lean muscle mass. Muscle burns calories because it is always in motion whereas fat tissue is motionless. The reason this is important is that the lower your lean muscle mass the slower your bodies metabolism will be. This is what contributes to more unhealthy fat and unwanted weight gain.

The relationship between disease, excessive weight gain and the loss of muscle mass and strength

The body is more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, joint problems and loss of bone density with lesser amounts of lean muscle.

The scientific name for this muscle loss is Sarcopenia[1], a wasting away of muscle tissue.

If this is happening to you then it is time to see your doctor, to cut back on your unhealthy foods and drinks, and exercise your large muscle groups at least three times a week.


Sarcopenia is the natural and progressive loss of muscle fiber due to aging. The term “sarcopenia” derives from the Latin roots, “sarco” for muscle, and “penia” for wasting, making it the “muscle wasting disease.”

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