Sarcopenia is the term associated with the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength associated with aging. After the age of 35, the average person loses about five percent of their muscle mass every ten years. By age seventy we have lost twenty to forty percent of our strength. This actually has a number of implications for us older folks. I am including myself because I’m 55 years old. However today I am just going to focus on functional mobility.
Functional mobility is the ability to move from one place to another while performing activities. For most people, functional mobility is the ability to walk, get in and out of bed, and get into and out of a chair or the ability to get around independently.
What are the effects of Sarcopenia on loss of mobility?
- The risk of disability is 1.5 to 4.6 times higher in older persons with sarcopenia than in older persons with normal muscle.
- Age‐related muscle weakness dramatically increases the risk for elderly falling. Elderly who fall have a significantly greater chance of not being able to continue living in the community.
- One half of accidental deaths among individuals age 65 and older are related to falls.
Can you combat the effects of Sarcopenia and its negative impact on your functional mobility? The short answer is “YES!” The great news is no matter how old you are, your body responds the same to exercise. Although age‐related muscle loss is unavoidable, an exercise program and interventions can halt or reverse Sarcopenia. In fact researchers have reported that resistance exercise is an effective way to fight age-related declines in muscle mass and function.
Can you be in such a state of decline that you can no longer benefit from resistance training? With the proper modifications and working with your healthcare professional, everyone can benefit from some sort of resistance training. The key is not to wait untill you get to that point. It is easier to maintain then regain.
So what is your next step? Just start something. Get moving, but include resistance training. Join a gym. Get a personal trainer. If you are older get a trainer experienced in working with seniors. If you are not sure where to start see my earlier blog entitled “Getting Started On Your Fitness Journey.”