Muscle loss (sarcopenia) is common in old age, a condition that makes older people more vulnerable to infection and complicates recovery from illness. Exercise is the best way to strengthen the muscle structure
Legs and arms lose tone, slowly it becomes more difficult to lift the shopping bag, even tiring walking: this often happens over the years and the cause of sarcopenia, difficult word that literally means loss of meat, or muscle mass. A very frequent condition in the elderly, which is estimated to affect 10 percent of the over 50 population but which in the over 70s becomes a problem of considerable size: at the age of 70, an average of 8 percent of muscle tissue is lost, which then continues to decrease by about 15 percent every ten years. Unfortunately there is a vicious circle between sarcopenia and Covid-19, as research just published in the journal has shown Nutrition: Older people with low muscle mass are more likely to contagion, but in the event of an infection the muscle loss worsens further.
Not only that: a study by the post-Covid Day Hospital of the Gemelli-Catholic University Foundation of Rome has shown that sarcopenia is the reason for the tiredness and breathlessness present in 53 and 43 percent of patients with post-Covid syndrome, respectively. Francesco Landi, co-author of the research and president of the Italian Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics, explains: Older people with sarcopenia have fewer T lymphocytes circulating and therefore are unable to better cope with the metabolic overwork necessary in case of Sars-CoV-2 infection; in case of contagion, then, the immune system less efficient is reflected in a greater risk of severe progression and then in post-Covid syndrome with bothersome symptoms.
Since the loss of muscle mass associated withaging closely linked to greater fragility and an increase in mortality in general and not only for Covid, diagnosing it and above all preventing it is essential. As Maria Luisa Brandi, president of the FIRMO Foundation for Research on Bone Diseases, observes, there is not a single parameter to define sarcopenia, but today we refer to the quantity of the muscle and also to its quality, that is whether or not it is rich in fat and especially whether or not it is powerful and strong. To diagnose it, therefore, tests such as measuring the strength of the handshake, walking distance or walking speed are performed: a low performance indicative of sarcopenia. Evaluate the muscles appropriate if you feel weak and even if you have lost weight, since in the third age slimming almost always associated with muscle loss. Then what helps the most physical activity because as Landi explains Physical exercise prevents sarcopenia and in the elderly is a real lifesaver, because it has positive repercussions on cognitive abilities, disability, cardiovascular and respiratory function, sleep-wake rhythm. An approach based on personalized exercises and controlled nutrition can maintain good muscle performance for a long time, preventing disability and helping in the recovery of autonomy. also true in the case of SARS-CoV-2 infection: quickly intervening on the elderly infected with an activity that favors the maintenance of general muscle and respiratory tone allows a better and faster recovery.
Exercise as a cure
However, there are no effective therapies against sarcopenia, although amino acids, vitamins, modified foods are being tested, adds Brandi. For example, we know that vitamin D helps muscle contractility, but there is no strong evidence that it counteracts age-related muscle loss; supplements can be useful not so much for the direct effect on the muscle, but if they help the elderly to feel better and move more. in fact theexercise the only possible cure, because the muscles respond to the stimulation of movement and by exercising more the sarcopenia improves. However, even if the muscles respond well to exercise, this must always be dosed without overdoing it: the ligaments also age, on which physical activity has no protective effect, so if you overdo it looking for performance that is not adequate for your age you risk trauma. due to wear of other fabrics. A workout adapted to your health, age and muscles is always the best choice, concludes Brandi.
November 15, 2021 (change November 15, 2021 | 19:38)
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