Exercise is the only way to build muscle, even if you consume plenty of protein. Aerobic exercise {such as brisk walking) is good… everyone should get some because it improves muscle and cardiovascular health.  But strength building is the real ticket for building muscle.  It also appears to promote brain health.

Australian researchers had 100 people ages 55 or older with mild cognitive impairment ( a condition that often precedes Alzheimer’s disease). do weight-lifting exercises twice a week for six months, the stronger the study participants’ muscles got, the greater their cognitive improvement, according to a study published in 2016 in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Even if you are not able to use weight-lifting machines at a gym, there are several methods to complete strength training  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends lifting weights(hand weights are fine) or using elastic resistance bands two to three days a week.

I recommend someone with sarcopenia consider utilizing a Physical Therapist initially to assist in restoring flexibility, balance, endurance and strength, then consider a exercise coach or personal trainer with communications from the Physical Therapist.  Research shows that people who work with exercise coach or personal trainer are more likely to stick with the regular exercise program.

Also, consider loading up on protein.  Everyone needs protein to increase muscle size and strength. Whenever possible, get most or all of your protein from natural foods rather than from protein-fortified  foods…the nutrients in natural foods work synergistically to provide greater benefits.

Get enough vitamin D.  We need vitamin D for both muscle and bone strength. Eat fish. There is evidence that 2 to 4 weekly meals of fatty fish will improve blood flow to the body’s muscles, including the heart, however, evidence that it helps is not conclusive.Working closely with your physician and other health care professionals can help someone with sarcopenia regain an improved lifestyle.

Far too many people assume that this age-related condition known as sarcopenia, which means “loss of muscle or flesh, “ is an inevitable part of aging.  That’s simply not true. New and better ways to prevent and diagnose this condition now are available….there’s more reason than ever to not ignore it.

With advancing age, our muscles shrink because the body loses some of its ability to convert protein into muscle tissue. By age 50, the average adult loses about 1% to 2% of the muscle mass every year.

The real problem is what results from this muscle mass.  Over time, it becomes more difficult to stand up from a chair…climb stairs or even open a jar.  People with sarcopenia are far more likely than stronger adults to suffer falls/or bone fractures.

An increasing body of evidence shows that people with weak muscle strength have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes…a disease that can also double your risk for heart attack and stroke.

People with sarcopenia are at increased risk for cognitive decline including brain atrophy and dementia, according to research published in Clinical Interventions in Aging. In this study, people with sarcopenia were 6 times more likely to suffer from physical/cognitive impairments than those without this condition.

Collectively, the risks associated with sarcopenia are so great that clinicians from a variety of disciplines assess such signs as weight loss(from shrinking muscles)…fatigue…and a loss of strength to determine which patients are at highest risk for frailty and to work toward intervention.

As scientists learn more about sarcopenia, the better the odds are of fighting it…if you take the appropriate steps.

MORE next issue on what works best if you have sarcopenia.