3 Things that You Can Expect in Life: Death, Taxes and Sarcopenia

Three things are a given in life, death, taxes and sarcopenia. The first two you know all about while the third, sarcopenia, is from the Greek word meaning, literally “lack of flesh” and was coined by Irwin H. Rosenberg, MD, of the USDA HNRC on Aging at Tufts University in Boston back in 1989.

If you are over the age of forty you may have already started to experience this loss in lean muscle tissue. For some individuals it can occur even earlier in life while others who exercise regularly can offset or retard the process. Researchers have stated the following regarding sarcopenia:

“Annual loss of muscle mass has been reported as 1% to 2% at the age of 50 years onwards (Buford et al. 2010; Marcell 2003), and it exceeds over 50% among those aged 80 years and older when compared to younger adults (Baumgartner et al. 1998). The change of muscle mass is closely related to changes in muscle strength.”

One of the keys to delay sarcopenia is adding weekly strength training sessions to your current exercise routine. In terms of frequency, finding the time to complete 2-3 sessions a week would be ideal. As for duration, 15-30 minutes will suffice as long as the intensity is sufficient. The human body is an amazing organism, and to increase strength level, muscles have to be overloaded beyond what they are currently capable of lifting. When this occurs the body will adapt from the imposed stimulus and get stronger. Your goal is to select a resistance that will fatigue the muscle(s); pushing to reach near momentary muscular failure with each set of exercise you perform.

strength-chartThe good news is by adding plenty of protein to your diet, staying active and strength training on a regular basis, you can increase strength, functional ability and slow the loss of muscle tissue as you age. The choice is up to you.


Buford TW, Anton SD, Judge AR, Marzetti E, Wohlgemuth SE, Carter CS, et al. (2010). Models of accelerated sarcopenia: critical pieces for solving the puzzle of age-related muscle atrophy. Aging Res Rev. 9:369–383. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2010.04.004.

Marcell TJ. Sarcopenia: causes, consequences, and preventions (2003). J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 58:M911–M916. doi: 10.1093/gerona/58.10.M911

Baumgartner RN, Koehler KM, Gallagher D, Romero L, Heymsfield SB, Ross RR, et al. (1998). Epidemiology of sarcopenia among the elderly in New Mexico. Am J Epidemiol. 147:755–763. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a009520.

Bijlsma AY, Meskers CGM, Ling CHY, Narici M, Kurrle SE, Cameron ID, Westendorp RGJ, and Maier AB (2013). Defining sarcopenia: the impact of different diagnostic criteria on the prevalence of sarcopenia in a large middle aged cohort
Age (Dordr). 35(3): 871–881. doi: 10.1007/s11357-012-9384-z

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