The number of chronic diseases in older adults, including frailty and sarcopenia, is on the rise. So is lifespan. In order to ensure a better quality of life in people over 65, early intervention is the key, according to a Stanford University medical researcher studying treatments for sarcopenia, which is the natural loss of muscle mass as you age.
Multiple studies have shown strength training can reverse the loss of muscle strength caused by sarcopenia. Starting when you’re younger can give yourself better outcomes when you’re older. “To take a pretty frail individual in their 70s and to tell them to do physical training, I feel that’s pretty hard,” according to Adelaida Palla, PhD, and a Senior Scientist at Stanford University. “It’s important for doctors to focus a bit more on this in the 40s and 50s. Most people are probably pretty active still and if you continue that it’s gonna be a lot easier to continue when you’re 70 or 80.”
While it may be easier, it is certainly not impossible. Medical science shows that starting a workout program that includes modestly vigorous weight lifting three times a week has proven to help improve strength in as little as one month. “It does seem to be multifactorial problem, so I don’t think just one of the aspects is going to make this a better process for aging. So, I think it’s gonna have to be multifactorial, not only physical training but also lifestyle.”
Dr. Palla spoke to StrongPath at the International Conference on Frailty and Sarcopenia in Miami last month. She said she was encouraged by some of the research presented that is looking at drug intervention as a future treatment for sarcopenia. “Especially in this conference, you’ve seen a lot of trials going on to try to figure out what are the most important factors to take into account. But I think it will be changing. Probably in the next five years, maybe the first anti-sarcopenic drug or intervention will be recognized. I think that it’ll be an exciting time.”
Watch Dr. Palla complete interview here.