“Sarcopenia” is the gradual loss of muscle mass that begins for most women after age 35. Contrary to popular belief, this decline in muscle mass and strength is not a result of the aging process; rather, it’s due to inactivity.
However, current dogma around resistance training among elderly women has been a barrier. Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs as a result of “normal ageing.” It is not entirely due to sickness but is also a normal aspect of the ageing process. This is not to be confused with cachexia, which is the uncontrollable loss of muscle and/or body fat mass. While cachexia is most commonly associated with malnutrition caused by illnesses such as cancer, sarcopenia is defined as a progressive loss of muscle mass caused by changes in nutrition and physical activity. This is significant because sarcopenic people can keep their fat mass, resulting in a “thin fat” body composition. Sarcopenic obesity has more serious health effects, as we will discuss in another chapter.
“Few would argue that some form of resistance training should not be part of a complete exercise program; however, the bulk of literature on the cardio-protective effects of aerobic exercise has continued to make this form of exercise preeminent and the central focus of many physical activity guidelines in Canada, the United States, and many other countries.”
Studies show that resistance training is the best way to prevent and reverse the loss of muscle for older adults. For women, in particular, resistance training is an effective long-term strategy to preserve muscle and positive changes in body composition.
The science is clear: improving your muscle mass is something anyone can (and should) do.