Sarcopenia is the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength with age. It is a part of the aging process and is thought to affect roughly 30% of adults over 60 years of age (Baumgartner et.al., 2003). Sarcopenia contributes to disability, longer recovery periods from major illness, and increased mortality in the elderly. It is also important to note that these musculoskeletal adaptations can occur independent of weight change, making it difficult to identify.
Below is an MRI image of the cross section of the upper leg. Although the overall circumference of the leg remains the same, the relative skeletal muscle tissue is significantly decreased and the amount of adipose tissue has increased.
Losing muscle mass directly affects strength. The figure above depicts the regression of strength and muscle mass with age. The good news is that regardless of age, you can reverse the physiological changes that occur with sarcopenia. By engaging in resistance training, you can slow down or reverse the deterioration of muscle mass and maintain normal function and quality of life throughout your lifetime.