Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Sarcopenia, characterized by loss of muscle mass and strength, is regarded as one of the most meaningful geriatric syndromes. Sarcopenic persons are weaker than persons with normal muscle mass. Studies have not completely confirmed the cause of sarcopenia, although there are several factors that may contribute to its cause. Symptoms of sarcopenia may develop as early as the fourth decade of life. Fifteen percent of 65 year old people and as many as 50 percent of people eighty years and older have sarcopenia. With the increasing number of older people worldwide, sarcopenia has a major impact on public health.
Research shows that mainly essential amino acids, in particular, leucine, are responsible for anabolic effect of the amino acids in skeletal muscles. In elderly people, higher protein turnover and better nitrogen retention were observed with three meals per day, with the lunchtime meal providing 80 percent of the daily protein. Supplementation of vitamin D has been shown to increase muscle strength and performance. Studies have demonstrated that elderly people could significantly improve muscle strength and performance after a short period of high-intensity of resistance training.
These observations indicate that the capacity of muscle to adapt to resistance physical activity is preserved in old age even after a short period of training. From these studies, it is clear that resistance training can reverse and at least partially prevent sarcopenia. Globally, the elderly population is growing rapidly; there is an urgent need to encourage continued research and translate current research knowledge into nutrition education and physical activity outreach programs that can prevent the epidemic of sarcopenic-related disability causing significant health and societal costs in the 21st century.
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