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John's Fitness Blog: Sarcopenia...what?

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Sarcopenia is a pretty fancy word! What does it mean and why am I throwing around such a big word? Because it a word that we should all be concerned with, as it affects all of us.

Sarcopenia means muscle loss with aging. And, aging means starting at about 30 years old! This is a scary thought for nearly all of us, or it should be. Throughout our lives, our bodies are continually breaking down, repairing, and then building the proteins that make up our muscles. But at around the age of 30 we start to break down more protein than we synthesize and lose about a quarter pound of muscle mass every year.  

Why do we care?

Well, muscle is the absolute centerpiece for being healthy, vital, and independent as we grow older. Muscle keeps us strong and mobile. It is where most of our calories are burned, so having more muscle means burning more calories, which makes it easier to stay trim. Muscle helps us appear younger. Muscle power is the key to helping not only older people avoid falling. Muscle keeps us functionally more active and able to do many of the activities that give us good health and quality of life.

Sarcopenia does not have to happen!

We can easily prevent, or at least, slow down sarcopenia, this gradual loss of muscle. Strength training, also called resistance or weight training, is the key. Strength training is all about lifting something heavy on a regular basis.

There are many ways to do this. Some lucky people get paid to do this as part of their jobs, like farmers. Some people have figured out how to do this with their body weight, and have the discipline to exercise on their own at home. But, most of us need to go the gym for individual workouts with weights or resistance machines, or take exercise classes.

The Portland Y is an ideal place to find the strength training that fits your personal preference. The Wellness Center has a variety of resistance machines and free weights, and fitness specialists to help you out. There are exercises classes for all ages and fitness levels. 

Sarcopenia may be a fancy and scary word, but you can easily fight it with muscle building exercise. So, have fun and stay young.