An estimated 45 percent of U.S. adults 65 and older suffer from age-related loss of muscle mass, referred to as sarcopenia. Performing resistance exercises regularly and consuming adequate amounts of dietary protein from high-quality sources are two important ways for older persons to slow the progression of and treat this condition. Resistance training can help older people gain muscle strength, and increase whole body fat-free mass. It can also help frail elderly people improve balance and physical functioning capabilities. Resistance training usually involves using weights or some other form of resistance designed to improve an individual’s strength. It is also sometimes referred to as “strength” or “weight” training and it can include such things as lifting free weights, body weight exercises such as push-ups, and weight machines, to name a few examples.
Inadequate protein intake may cause the loss of fat-free mass and muscle strength. The Institute of Medicine has set the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein for all adults, regardless of age, at the equivalent of 0.8 g per kg of body weight. However, there is not a consensus related to the protein needs of older persons. Aging is associated with a variety of changes that might change the protein requiremenst of older adults. Items such as declines in body composition (loss of muscle mass), physical activity, and total food intake may all contribute to changes in protein requirements.
Dr. Wayne Campbell has conducted studies examining both protein requirements and benefits of resistance exercises. A recent study examined the protein requirements of younger and older adults. His lab found that the requirement for total dietary protein is not different between healthy older adults and younger adults. They also determined that dietary protein requirements do not differ statistically from the RDA. In other studies, his team has found that increasing dietary protein intake over the RDA does not enhance muscle strength and size.
Research by Dr. Campbell has confirmed the importance of both performing resistance exercises and to consume enough high quality protein to keep from losing muscle mass as we age.
For more information, contact Dr. Wayne Campbell, firstname.lastname@example.org