IDEA PERSONAL Trainer april 2002

Sarcopenia is the age-related loss of muscle mass, strength and function (Waters, Baumgartner & Garry 2000; Vandervoort & Symons 2001). Although there is no specific level of lean body mass or muscle mass at which one can say sarcopenia is present (Roubenoff 2001), any loss of muscle mass—and subsequent strength—is important (Roth, Ferrel & Hurley 2000). Sarcopenia generally begins in one’s 40s and accelerates after age 75. It causes the most atrophy in the fast-twitch (FT) fibers, which are recruited during high-intensity, anaerobic movements (Waters, Baumgartner & Garry 2000).

Although sarcopenia is most prevalent in physically inactive individuals, it also affects those who remain physically active throughout their lives, suggesting that physical inactivity is not the only contributing factor. Current research is finding that in addition to physical inactivity, motor-unit remodeling, decreased hormone levels and decreased protein synthesis may all contribute to sarcopenia. Fortunately, sarcopenia is partly reversible with appropriate exercise interventions. ‘