Sarcopenia: What is it and How to Fight it?

Sarcopenia is a progressive disease that can have multiple causes, and it's associated with age. It leads to a loss of muscle mass and strength.
Sarcopenia: What is it and How to Fight it?

Last update: 16 April, 2020

We can begin to notice symptoms of aging from the end of our second decade in life. These symptoms will manifest more and more, and they can limit the quality of life. It’s up to us to fight the signs of aging and delay their appearance. Sarcopenia is one of these associated issues and it’s likely to affect our health as we age.

What is sarcopenia?

It’s a progressive and generalized disease that affects the skeletal muscles. Sarcopenia is a rheumatic disease that involves the loss of muscle mass, strength and sports performance. It’s responsible, along with a sedentary lifestyle, for the loss of mobility and autonomy in elderly people.

The causes are complex and multifactorial. Some people believe they’re related to a sedentary lifestyle or to the inactivity caused by some rheumatic or degenerative diseases. They’ve also linked it to the loss of anabolic hormones, such as testosterone.

The causes of sarcopenia

As we’ve already mentioned, sarcopenia has a multifactorial origin. In this section, we’ll review in more detail the possible mechanisms that cause the beginning of muscle mass loss with age.

Sedentary lifestyle

It’s probably the main cause of muscle loss in middle age. For people who work office jobs and spend most of the day sitting, it’s usual to work their muscles less and have a low-calorie expenditure.

This causes our muscle mass to decrease when we don’t use it, and in turn, our body fat percentage increases. The best way to combat this lifestyle is to start exercising and playing sports, especially those in the strengthening category.

A girl strength training in the gym to prevent sarcopenia

Rheumatic illnesses

The appearance of rheumatic illnesses at certain ages can lead to a forced sedentary lifestyle. Certain pathologies, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, cause a decrease in our daily activity time. Again, this causes us to lose muscle tissue from not using it enough.

Anabolic hormone loss

Losing sex hormones such as testosterone (which is also present in women but in lower concentrations) can determine a lower muscle anabolism and lead to a greater loss of useful tissue for both men and women.

Another very important hormone that decreases its concentration with age is the growth hormone. This is a fundamental substance in the generation of new muscle tissue and hypertrophy.

The treatment for sarcopenia

Even though there’s no magic pill that can help us regain muscle mass, we can delay its loss through an active lifestyle and proper nutrition. In this section, we’ll review, point by point, the best ways to avoid the loss of muscle mass associated with age.

Strength sports

Studies show that strength sports are a great ally against muscle loss. People have obtained great results in the preservation of lean muscle by exercising with weights, elastic bands or their own body weight.

The preservation of muscle also favors maintaining a fast metabolism. This reduces the amount of fat that we accumulate, which can also increase with age.

Following an adequate diet

Following a diet that matches up with the physical activity we do is also essential. Avoiding processed foods is very important since they can be harmful to our health, and even more so as we age.

A healthy bowl of salad with chicken and lots of vegetables

Having a high protein intake is vital since protein is responsible for maintaining the structure of muscle fibers during growth and repair processes. To achieve this, we can use the help of supplements.


Finally, in certain cases, when sarcopenia becomes more serious and we can’t do any type of strengthening activity due to the conditions we mentioned above, it’s advisable to visit a health professional. Those experts can prescribe medication that prevents muscle catabolism to make it easier for our bodies to preserve the tissues.

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  • Law TD, Clark LA, Clark BC. Resistance Exercise to Prevent and Manage Sarcopenia and Dynapenia. Annu. Rev. Gerontol. Geriatr. [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2019 Oct 12];36(1):205. Available from:
  • Santilli V, Bernetti A, Mangone M, Paoloni M. Clinical definition of sarcopenia. Clin. Cases Miner. Bone Metab. [Internet]. 2014 Sep [cited 2019 Oct 12];11(3):177–80. Available from:

The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.