Measuring handgrip strength is one of the main ways of detecting sarcopenia, a syndrome characterized by loss of muscle mass, force and function.
Sarcopenia, a clinical syndrome characterized by progressive and extensive decline in skeletal muscle mass, force and function, is widely considered part of aging. Early diagnosis is extremely important and begins with handgrip measurement using a dynamometer.
A recent study by researchers at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) in São Paulo state, Brazil, collaborating with colleagues at University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom, concluded that the diagnosis protocol should be changed by raising the handgrip strength cutoff point used to detect muscle weakness. They say new criteria proposed in their paper would be better predictors of mortality risk in older adults, enabling healthcare professionals to detect the onset of sarcopenia earlier and more accurately.
Regular physical activity promotes general good health, reduces the risk of developing many diseases, and helps you live a longer and healthier life. For many of us, “exercise” means walking, jogging, treadmill work, or other activities that get the heart pumping.
But often overlooked is the value of strength-building exercises. Once you reach your 50’s and beyond, strength (or resistance) training is critical to preserving the ability to perform the most ordinary activities of daily living — and to maintaining an active and independent lifestyle.
The average 30-year-old will lose about a quarter of his or her muscle strength by age 70 and half of it by age 90. “Just doing aerobic exercise is not adequate,” says Dr. Robert Schreiber, physician-in-chief at Hebrew SeniorLife and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Unless you are doing strength training, you will become weaker and less functional.”
Sarcopenia, the gradual loss of muscle mass that can occur with aging, affects 15 percent of people over age 65, and 50 percent of people over age 80. As we lose muscle mass, we lose strength, and if we lose too much, our ability to function suffers. Fortunately, emerging research is shedding new light on the role dietary protein plays in maintaining muscle, functionality, and health as we age.
Some of this gradual, age-associated loss of muscle mass, strength, and function has to do with a decrease in activity, but not all of it. “Like many complex syndromes of older adults, many factors contribute to sarcopenia,” says Roger A. Fielding, PhD, director of the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia laboratory. “Decreased physical activity, hormonal changes, increase in low-grade inflammatory processes, and changes in dietary intake that include decline in protein intake are all involved.”
Protein and Muscle: The body’s ability to manufacture muscle from protein decreases a bit with aging, so increasing dietary protein—in concert with muscle-building exercise—could help to maintain muscle mass and strength. “We know that in extreme conditions of protein malnutrition people lose muscle mass pretty rapidly,” says Fielding. “But even in older individuals who are taking in protein around the recommended levels, consuming lower amounts of protein is associated with higher rate of muscle loss than consuming higher amounts of protein.”
Paul F. Jacques, DSc, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and senior scientist at the HNRCA Nutritional Epidemiology Team, and his colleagues found higher protein intake may translate to less frailty, disability, or physical dysfunction “We found that higher protein intake was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of losing functional integrity with time,” says Jacques. “This is observational data, but it clearly demonstrates the potential importance of a higher protein diet.”
A new large scale genetic analysis has found biological mechanisms that contribute to making people more susceptible to muscle weakness in later life, finding that diseases such as osteoarthritis and diabetes may play a large role in susceptibility.
As we get older we lose muscle strength, and in some people this severe weakness impacts their ability to live everyday lives, a condition called sarcopenia. Around 10 per cent of people over 50 experience sarcopenia. Many causes thought to impact likelihood of developing this weakness, which is linked to higher death rates.
In a genetic analysis of over 250,000 people aged over 60 from UK Biobank and 21 other cohorts, an international team led by researchers at the University of Exeter looked at hand grip strength, using thresholds of loss of muscle function derived from international definitions of sarcopenia.
The team, including collaborators from the USA and the Netherlands, then conducted a genetic analysis, and found specific biological mechanisms push some people towards sarcopenia, while protecting others. The study, published in Nature Communications identified 15 areas of the genome, or loci, associated with muscle weakness, including 12 loci not implicated in previous analyses of continuous measures of grip strength.
Biomarkers in the blood including red blood cells and inflammation may also share causal pathways with sarcopenia. Together, these results highlight specific areas for intervention or for identifying those at most risk.
Lead author Garan Jones said: “The strongest associations we found were close to regions of the genome regulating the immune system, and growth and development of the muscloskeletal system. However, we also discovered associations with regions not previously known to be linked to muscloskeletal traits.
“We found that our analysis of muscle weakness in older people shared common genetic pathways with metabolic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, and auto-immune conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In subgroups of people with increased risk of these conditions, sarcopenia may be a key outcome to look out for and prevent.
“We hope that by understanding the genetic contributions to muscle weakness with age, we will be able to highlight possible therapeutic interventions earlier in life, which would lead to a happier and healthier old age.”
How many times do we have to say it? Eat less; move more; live longer. Here, it is supported by a new study presented at the Association of Academic Physiatrists Annual Meeting in Orlando.
Good exercise habits formed in adolescence correlate positively with exercise habits in adults, and adults with good exercise habits have better physical performance and appropriate body-mass index scores for their age, according to the study.
Regular exercise habits can lead to better physical fitness and mental health in people of all ages. However, research shows that people in the United States and Canada tend to exercise less as their age increases, and the most significant drop-offs in exercise habits take place during the teenage and early adult years. For this retrospective study, researchers in Taiwan wanted to know if exercise habits formed in adolescence could affect physical fitness in later adulthood, and to assess the relationship between adolescent and adult exercise habits and its influence on later physical fitness. Continue reading →
I have written repeatedly about the benefits of exercise on both the body and brain. It turns out that there seems to be a link between loss of muscle mass, sarcopenia, and cognitive decline.
Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass, tends to happen naturally with age. So, in older people with sarcopenia, excess body fat may not be readily visible. But hidden fat, paired with muscle mass loss later in life, could predict Alzheimer’s risk, researchers warn.
A recent study — the results of which have been published in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging — has found that sarcopenia and obesity (independently, but especially when occurring together) can heighten the risk of cognitive function impairments later in life.
The research was conducted by scientists at the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
“Sarcopenia,” explains senior study author Dr. James Galvin, “has been linked to global cognitive impairment and dysfunction in specific cognitive skills including memory, speed, and executive functions.” Continue reading →
Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog. I am always thrilled to run across studies that underscore those concepts. This one adds nutritional supplementation for additional benefits.
A study of the combined effect of exercise and nutrition intervention on muscle mass and function in seniors finds that exercise has a positive impact, with some possible additive effect of dietary supplementation.
Although sarcopenia, progressive muscle loss, is a natural part of aging, it is generally identified when muscle mass and muscle function falls below defined thresholds. Sarcopenia’s impact can be enormous as it affects mobility, balance, risk of falls and fractures, and overall ability to perform tasks of daily living. Given the aging of populations worldwide, public health and clinical recommendations to prevent and manage sarcopenia are urgently needed.
I remember a short story in high school about a man who happened upon a medical encyclopedia. Reading it, he decided that he was suffering from every malady except housemaid’s knee.
As the ‘one regular guy’ producing this blog, I read a lot on various aspects of living a healthy life. I confess to a temptation to occasionally wander into hypochondria myself.
I recently ran across the term ‘sarcopenia.’ Ever heard of that? It was a new one to me.
Here’s what the Mayo Clinic blog had to say, “It is a simple fact. As we age we lose muscle and strength. There’s even a medical term for this — sarcopenia. It’s derived from the Greek words “sarcos” (flesh) and “penia” (lack of).
“Estimates of how much muscle is lost with age vary from 8 percent to about 50 percent of our muscles. Men seem to lose muscle faster than women. Strength is lost more rapidly than muscle.”
WebMD says, “Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you’ll still have some muscle loss. Continue reading →
The saying goes there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. But men should also add loss of muscle mass to the list.
Age-related muscle loss, called sarcopenia, is a natural part of aging. After age 30, you begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade. Most men will lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lifetimes.
Less muscle means greater weakness and less mobility, both of which may increase your risk of falls and fractures. A 2015 report from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research found that people with sarcopenia had 2.3 times the risk of having a low-trauma fracture from a fall, such as a broken hip, collarbone, leg, arm, or wrist.
But just because you lose muscle mass does not mean it is gone forever. “Older men can indeed increase muscle mass lost as a consequence of aging,” says Dr. Thomas W. Storer, director of the exercise physiology and physical function lab at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It takes work, dedication, and a plan, but it is never too late to rebuild muscle and maintain it.”
The hormone factor
One possible contributor to sarcopenia is the natural decline of testosterone, the hormone that stimulates protein synthesis and muscle growth. Think of testosterone as the fuel for your muscle-building fire. Continue reading →
Sarcopenia, or the gradual loss of muscle mass, is a common consequence of ageing, and poses a significant risk factor for disability in older adults. As muscle strength plays an important role in the tendency to fall, sarcopenia leads to an increased risk of fractures and other injuries.
The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Nutrition Working Group has published a new review which identifies nutritional factors that contribute to loss of muscle mass, or conversely, are beneficial to the maintenance of muscle mass. The Group reviewed evidence from worldwide studies on the role of nutrition in sarcopenia, specifically looking at protein, acid–base balance, vitamin D/calcium, and other minor nutrients like B vitamins.
“The most obvious intervention against sarcopenia is exercise in the form of resistance training,” said Professor Jean-Philippe Bonjour, co-author and Professor of Medicine at the Service of Bone Diseases, University of Geneva. “However, adequate nutritional intake and an optimal…