Sarcopenia: Physical Activity and Exercises

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Louise Hay

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La sarcopenia - Or muscle atrophy - is a phenomenon degenerative of the muscle skeletal that can occur during theaging and in the presence of risk factors such as: immobility, deficit nutritional of essential amino acids (AAE) ed energy (kcal), and any diseases or alterations functional d'organo (liver, kidneys, intestines, etc.).

Sarcopenia is the result of one imbalance between normal degradation muscular and what "should" be an equally physiological capacity of self-regeneration. In sarcopenic, however, the muscle struggles to repair itself as it should - because of some changes in those that are defined life di signal area of synthesis muscular.

Sarcopenia is distinguished from cachessia, an apparently similar disease, precisely on the basis of this mechanism. In fact, in cachexia, what occurs is an alteration in the levels of inflammatory chemical mediators called cytokines - although in some cases sarcopenia and cachexia coexist in the same patient.

Almost always characterized by progression ed aggravation, sarcopenia is a frequent cause of disability, which in the elderly determines a reduction area of quality and dell 'expectation di "vita" - is considered an important component in the frailty syndrome.


The preventive and therapeutic treatment of sarcopenia

The course of the sarcopenia is closely related to the level of physical activity (WORD), diet overall and any comorbilità.

Although this disease is based on a pathological mechanism apparently intrinsic, the management of environmental factors seems to play a role determinant.

La elite therapy, both preventive and curative, della sarcopenia include:

  1. Balanced diet but specific to the needs of the elderly;
  2. Complete motor training but adequate for geriatric needs.

WARNING! Before going into detail, it should be noted that the treatment sarcopenia must necessarily to include both these factors. Acting on a single element would have limited effectiveness, although obviously the working margin depends on the specific conditions of the subject.

In the next paragraphs we will go into more detail but in this article we will focus more onphysical activity and on esercizi. For more information on nutrition and diet, see our specific articles.

Physical activity

Importance of physical activity for sarcopenia

Physical activity, as we have said, is one of the two fundamental pillars in the treatment of sarcopenia. Nonetheless, theinterpretation to the results area of search scientific in scope clinical DON'T it is so simple.

In the various studies, very different training programs have been adopted for: type, duration e intensity. As can be easily deduced, this variability prevents us from reaching a protocol standardizzabile, that is to one guideline real.

However, there is no doubt that the lack di motor activity be a factor di significant risk for sarcopenia, and that theexercise physical can slow down considerably the rate of skeletal muscle loss.

Il therapeutic mechanism physical activity on sarcopenia consists of a real effect anti-aging fabric-specific. Aging normally leads to one reduction of the ability to synthesize muscle proteins, which consequently leads to the impoverishment of the contractile organ.

By practicing physical activity, on the other hand, you geteffect opposite to. Motor exercise applies a stressful stimulus to the muscle which, as a result of the supercompensation, is induced to increase di functionality, then of trophism (protein synthesis) ed efficiency contractile - which also implies an optimization of the nerve signal transmission.

Role of physical activity for the general health of the elderly

Leaving the scope specific of sarcopenia, complete motor training (so be it aerobic of resistance than of rinforzo) proves extremely useful for maintaining the state of health global of the elderly. By running a mixed protocol, benefits in terms of fitness cardiovascular, broncopolmonare, maintaining the bone density - essential in prevention and in treatment dell 'Osteoporosis - and also the maintenance of functions cognitive - exercise contributes to to prevent e improve la dementia senile.

Overall, physical activity can improve le performance physical General in old age. Since sarcopenia is a pathology significantly affected by immobility, motor exercise can also contribute indirectly to its prevention. By ensuring a better overall condition, it reduces the risk of trauma and degenerative conditions related to a reduction in the level of general physical activity.

Nutrition and diet: essential for supporting physical activity

We cannot fail to highlight the importance ofgeneral power supply.

The subject at risk of sarcopenia often commits the two big food mistakes:

  • Consume a few protein ad high biological value (VB) - those that provide essential amino acids in quantities and proportions;
  • He has a diet insufficient in terms energetic - the macronutrients that should make up most of the calories are carbohydrates, but also fats should not be neglected.

High VB proteins are found mostly in foods of animal origin (eggs, milk and derivatives, meat and fishery products), which should constitute at least 1/3 of the totals. The overall protein quantity can be estimated by multiplying the coefficient of Zones (which would be grams of protein) to the weight of the elderly in kilograms (if not under- or overweight). For example, a 70kg person should introduce 70-84g tot.

Once the protein intake is obtained, the rest of calories is loaded with carbohydrates and fats. Global energy is very important, because when it is insufficient the organism tends to use also the amino acids to produce Calories, nullifying what was obtained from training.

We specify that physical activity increases power consumption and requires, more than a low-motion condition, the right protein intake. Without combining the right diet with motor exercise, the desired results would not be obtained.

La combination of physical activity and intake (under medical supervision) food for special medical purposes rich in whey proteins, essential amino acids and vitamin D, it has shown excellent results in the muscle recovery of elderly people with sarcopenia.

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What exercises are useful in the treatment of sarcopenia?

The answer is: all those that the state of health allows to perform.

Unfortunately DON'T there are specific guidelines for motor therapy against sarcopenia. Let's say that it is always a good idea to respect the principles listed below, building around them the protocol Partner to the subject:

  1. Take into account the health state of the elderly: presence of osteo-articular, cardio-circulatory and respiratory diseases, mental condition, other problems;
  2. Reduce to a minimum, consequently, the index of risk specificFor example, if the person has walking or balance difficulties, consider using an exercise bike for aerobic activity;
  3. Manage la diet ensuring the normal caloric and normal protein intake, according to the protocol;
  4. Consider the everyday training: especially as regards the activity aerobics, which will consist mainly of walking and use of bicycles (in the preventive phase) or better still exercise bike, it is desirable that the elderly understand the importance of moving each day. The duration and intensity depend on the general conditions;
  5. Insert exercises of basilar musculation: the simplest is, in all probability, get up e Sit repeatedly. Not for nothing, it is also a criterion for evaluating motor skills in a clinical setting. For the upper part (trunk and arms) a gentle gymnastics protocol involving ad movements is recommended wide excursion, lenses, the natural load; a good alternative is the outdoor in water, thanks to the microgravity that tends to download the lumbar spine, the coxo-femoral, the knees and the ankles. Having said that, if the osteo-articular system allowed it, both multi-joint and single-joint exercises with resistances consisting of elastic o overloads undemanding. In this case, as in the swimming pool, the advice of a coach or personal trainer is required.


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  • Sayer AA (November 2014). "Sarcopenia the new geriatric giant: time to translate research findings into clinical practice". Age and Ageing. 43 (6): 736–7.
  • Abate M, Di Iorio A, Di Renzo D, Paganelli R, Saggini R, Abate G (September 2007). "Frailty in the elderly: the physical dimension". Europa Medicophysica. 43 (3): 407–15.
  • Yarasheski KE (October 2003). "Exercise, aging, and muscle protein metabolism". The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences (Review). 58 (10): M918-22.
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