“With age comes wisdom”.  “If I only knew then what I know now”.  “The Golden Years”.

There certainly are enough euphemisms that imply aging is a wonderful and fulfilling experience.  However, many are now coming to realize that as more time passes, we tend to lose more of what we truly enjoy.  Aging comes with its fair share of physical changes that can negatively impact our strength, endurance, balance and overall level of wellness and independence.

Sarcopenia occurs in all individuals – it is a loss of muscle mass with aging that typically begins in your 30’s.  This process is influenced by inactivity, hormone levels (reduction in levels of testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor), inadequate nutrition and an inability of the body to synthesize protein.  Sarcopenia tends to accelerate between the ages of 65 and 80.

While inactivity can lead to 3-5% loss of muscle mass per decade after the age of 30, improving the volume and intensity of your activity can help to minimize that loss.   How can you specifically combat this process?

Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.

Resistance training has been reported to positively influence the neuromuscular system, hormone concentrations, and protein synthesis rate. Research has shown that a program of progressive resistance training exercises can increase protein synthesis rates in older adults in as little as two weeks.

The good news is muscle mass can increase at any age in response to exercise. In an important study of weight lifting and older adults conducted with residents of a nursing home in Boston (average age 87), subjects lifted weights with their legs three times a week for 10 weeks. At the end of the study, there was an increase in thigh mass of 2.7%, walking speed increased 12%, and leg strength increased 113%!

For further information regarding group exercise programs and individual personal training sessions that are effective in combating sarcopenia, please contact the Orthopaedic Sport Institute at (705) 467-0701 or info@ortho-sport.ca and ask for a consultation with one of our friendly healthcare professionals.

Darryl Novotny, BScPT

Registered Physiotherapist

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