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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is sarcopenia?

    What causes it?
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    Eric Rosario

    Exercise Physiologist

    Master of Applied Science by Research into the Effects of Strength Training on Postmenopausal women. I have been involved in strength training for 67 years … View Profile

    Sarcopenia
    As a child grows and develops it gains muscle mass and strength but somewhere in the third decade it begins to lose muscle. This phenomenon is known as Sarcopenia. The question is whether you lose muscle because you stop playing or whether you stop playing because you lose muscle.
    Those who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age of 25 or 30 (WJ Evans). However, there will be some muscle loss, even in active people which means that there must be some other factors involved.
    These factors could include:

    1. Reduction in hormones like Growth Hormone, Testosterone, Insulin-like growth factor and thyroid hormones.
    2. Age related loss of nerve cells which initiate muscle contraction.
    3. Decrease in the ability to synthesise protein.
    The loss of muscle mass results in:
    1. Lowering the Basal Metabolic Rate and consequent increase in fat.
    2. Reduction in insulin sensitivity and possibility of Type 11 Diabetes.
    In a study which I conducted about a decade ago with Postmenopausal women between the ages of 47 and 70 the women who were 55 and under gained an average of 1.2 kgs with a year of strength training, while those who were over 55 gained an average of 1.6 kgs.
    Thyroid hormones, especially T3  which is produced with strength training  also helps with fighting depression (Gabe Mirkin).

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