Age-related muscle loss, called sarcopenia, is generally identified when muscle mass and muscle function falls below defined thresholds. Sarcopenia impacts mobility, balance, risk of falls and fractures, and overall ability to perform tasks of daily living.
The new review called 'Nutrition and Physical Activity in the Prevention and Treatment of Sarcopenia' assessed the effect of 37 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) combining physical activity and dietary supplements on muscle mass and muscle function in adults aged 60 and older.
Synergistic effect of exercise and diet
The review concluded that:
· In 79% of the studies, muscle mass increased with exercise and an additional effect of nutrition was found in 23.5% of the RCTs.
· Muscle strength increased in 82.8% of the studies following exercise intervention and dietary supplementation showed additional benefits in a small number of studies (22.8%).
· Most studies showed an increase of physical performance following exercise intervention (92.8%) and additional benefit from with nutrition supplementation was found in 14.3% of these studies.
The greatest effect of exercise intervention, of any type, was observed for physical performance (gait speed, chair rising test, balance, etc.).
Most of the studies included in the review were performed in healthy well-nourished people, so combined effect of diet supplementation on muscle function was less than expected. It’s likely that people with nutritional deficiencies would benefit more from dietary interventions
The results of the review clearly show, though, the overwhelmingly positive impact of exercise on muscle function.
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