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What in the World is Sarcopenia?

By: Sheila Borgen, PT

Any idea what sarcopenia is? It sure is a weird-sounding word! 


To put it simply, sarcopenia is the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength. Since it is age-related, it is inevitable, but some things can be done to slow down the process. 


What are the benefits of slowing down sarcopenia?


  1. Avoiding disability. With loss of strength arrives a decreased ability to perform simple tasks such as getting up from a chair or out of an automobile. In addition, loss of strength will make it more challenging to navigate the steps to get in and out of your home. 

  2. Decreased extracurricular activities. Strength deficits can make it more difficult to enjoy activities with family and friends. It can make taking a vacation challenging. 

  3. Decreased chronic diseases. Having the strength to stay active will fight against chronic diseases that may try to take hold of you. 


Now that you know what sarcopenia is and why you want to be in control of it, let’s discuss HOW you can manage it. 

There is one simple answer. Strength training. I am not talking about bench pressing 300 pounds, don’t worry! 


Some ideas for strength training include: 


  1. Resistance bands. These are readily available at most athletic stores and even big box stores. They are typically color-coded so that the user can determine which band has the least resistance to which has the highest resistance. There are a multitude of exercises readily found on the internet to guide you. An example is this one from Senior Fitness with Meredith.

2.    Medicine balls. These are also found at most athletic stores. They can be purchased in a variety of weights. A great YouTube video of a medicine ball workout routine can be found here

3.     Using machines or free weights. For some, the structure of a fitness center and weight machines is preferred. This is an option if you need someone available to assist you.


4. Yoga. Yoga can help build strength, increase flexibility, manage pain, and reduce stress. Most fitness centers offer a variety of yoga classes to suit the beginner and the advanced student. Some apps can be downloaded that will guide you through workout routines. 

Strength training should be an important goal as we age. To live life to the fullest, maintaining optimal health and physical strength is vital. Consider some of the methods for strength training discussed above and get started today! 

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