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Sarcopenia and Senior Citizens

Does reaching a specific age determine how you should train in the fitness industry? Too often, senior citizens (65+) are treated like fragile porcelain that will break if given too much weight. Here is a look at 4 metabolic conditions (hypothermia, blood pressure, osteoporosis and diabetes) that can be reversed with proper strength training. This is a must read for people who are tired of being medicated to treat problems and want to know more about how strength training can actually be stronger medication.

  • We start to lose muscle in our 30’s, a process known as Sarcopenia. “Sarco” meaning muscle and “penia” meaning wasting. When reaching the age of 60 and being sedentary, many people will have lost lots of muscle and begin to notice many medical conditions that might not be thought correlated directly to muscle.

  • Proper strength training is typically 1 set of 8-10 exercises, 8-12 repetitions of high intensity 2-3 times a week, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

  • Hypothermia is the decrease in heat. When we lose muscle we lose body heat. The body is trying to maintain an internal temperature of 98.6 degrees and any decrease in body heat to seniors can have a metabolic effect that can cause complications. Elderly people are very vulnerable to hypothermia and cases have shown that common slip and falls in the shower have lead to death because of the lowering temperature in the body.(Journal of Applied Physiology)

  • High Blood Pressure is usually treated by doctors prescribing a beta blocker to lower pressure. Beta blockers do this by blocking beta-adrenergic receptors, preventing adrenaline (epinephrine) from stimulating these receptors. Beta blockers cause vasodilatation which has the effect of relaxing and widening the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily through your arteries. Any medication is still a stressor on the body and if elderly people can incorporate a proper strength training program they can increase muscle mass, and more growth of vascular tissues to help support systemic circulation of blood flow while decreasing blood pressure.

  • Osteoporosis is a condition that decreased bone mineral density (BMD). The mechanism by which osteoporosis develops is excessive bone resorption, and inadequate formation of new bone during remodeling. Too many doctors want to prescribe medications that again add stressors to the body. The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research conducted a study concluding that people that performed heavier loads increased bone density compared to functional training/lighter loads. Also concluded in the study showed that increased muscle mass helped act as a force-dissipating cushion to help protect the bone in cases of falls.

  • Diabetes is a condition because a person has increased blood sugar because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. Again this is a condition usually treated with medications or very strict diets. Muscle is a main source of glycogen (sugar) storage and with decreased muscle mass it becomes resistant to insulin and the sugars are now shuffled off to fat storage. High Intensity Training (HIT) stimulates the fast twitch fibers which help deplete stored glycogen in the muscle and keeps cells sensitive to insulin and less resistant. Most low intensity training never cleave off enough stored glycogen so cells are usually full of glycogen so any ingested carbohydrates are shuffled off to fat storage.

  • Stop by the Fitness Department and learn more about HIT and how to control these metabolic conditions with proper exercise and less medication.

  • “Exercising does not make one an Exercise Specialist any more than having surgery makes one a Surgeon!

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