sarcopenia – BoomerMuscle

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February 9, 2017

Why Do Older People Shrink

graphic men aging

Why do older people shrink as they age? Here are the reasons, along with some ways you can prevent and even reverse this nasty effect of aging. 

And by the way, Baby Boomers, we are getting older. In fact, we are now aged 53 – 71. Officially old and well into the time frame where we shrink, lose bone and muscle mass and get fatter. In fact, experts say we are now the least fit, most fat generation in all of history.

Yay! Nobody told us getting older would be this much fun, right?

Brian Patterson going on 61

In my case, turning 60 brought with it some reflection on this whole aging thing. I realized that Boomers like me never really believed we’d ever grow old. Remember when we said “never trust anyone over 30.” We actually thought at one time that 30 was old!

We thought we’d be forever young. And we were invincible.

Doesn’t work that way in the real world. It’s now our turn, ready or not.

Personally, I’ve had several wake up calls along the way.

There was the heart attack and open heart surgery in my late 40’s. Followed by weakened vision, arthritis, ringing in the ears, hair turning white/grey and falling out in my 50’s. And just last year, there was colon surgery to take out a pre-cancerous growth. This year, an out-patient procedure to fix an incisional hernia from the previous surgery turned into an extended stay in the hospital and several days in ICU as my vitals mysteriously dropped off the charts. (I’m back to normal now, whew!)

All were signs I am anything but invincible or forever young (sorry, Rod Stewart).

So, ok, I get it. Enough with the signs, please. I’m committed to doing everything I can to make my remaining years healthy, happy and free from the preventable and crippling effects of aging.

Why Do Older People Shrink?

Have you ever wondered why some older people wind up hunched over, frail and in need of a walker or wheel chair — while others seem to stay relatively robust and able to move about freely?

In some cases, it might be due to lucky genetics. But there are definitely things you can do to put yourself in the healthy, upright category.

Starting around 30 or 40, people typically lose half-an-inch per decade in height.

Here’s why:


The loss of bone mass in our spinal columns, combined with loss of cartilage between our spinal disks, causes the shrinking.

The Keys to fixing it:

Diet: Eat a diet rich in Calcium and Vitamin D. And/or take vitamin supplements. Check with your doctor. Women in particular are more prone to bone loss. Here are some guidelines on Calcium and Vitamin D needs from the National Institutes of Health.

Resistance Training: When it comes to your bones, use it or lose it. Load-bearing exercises send a signal to your body to strengthen the bones against that load. A study tracking the same men and women over a 30 year period, reported by the National Institutes of Health, found that resistance training had a significant impact on reducing the loss of height in both men and women.


The loss of muscle mass due to aging. Combined with the shrinking, it makes us frail and less able to move about freely.

The Key to fixing it:

Resistance Training, again. According to Web MD: “The primary treatment for sarcopenia is exercise, specifically resistance training or strength training. These activities increase muscle strength and endurance using weights or resistance bands.

Resistance training can help your neuromuscular system. It also can improve an older adult’s ability to convert protein to energy in as little as two weeks.”


Due to poor diet and lack of exercise. Baby Boomers in particular are becoming obese and prone to Diabetes at alarming rates.

The Keys to fixing it:

Diet, again. Obviously, obesity is related to diet and other bad habits, like too much alcohol. You have to step up to this one and eat properly. You are what you eat.

Resistance Training, again. Nothing burns calories better than resistance training. Muscle demands fuel from your body 24 hours a day. So resistance training and building muscle burns fuel even when you’re not exercising. Cardio may burn a few more calories while you’re actually doing it, but it doesn’t have the after-burn like resistance training does.

Resistance Training

There’s a reason it keeps coming up as a key solution. It is, in my opinion, the single best thing we can do for ourselves as we age. I’ve been at, in between ‘wake up calls,’ for more than 48 years.

You don’t have to try and become a bodybuilder or set an Olympic record. This is really about our health and well being as we fight back against shrinking, bone loss, muscle loss, diabetes and more. 

Please see this post for more details on how to start a Resistance Training program to burn fat and build muscle. You can do it at home with something as a simple as a set of resistance bands, or in a more elaborate home gym or an outside facility. Where and with what really doesn’t matter. 

For your sake and those you love, please just start working out. Go slowly at first and build up to it. Keep at it. Consistency in doing it is the most important thing.

Something else to Consider

My Teeter Hangups in my basement gym

And while we’re on the subject of shrinking, I’d like to suggest you consider a Teeter Hangups for stretching out those vertebrae. I’ve been using mine for many years and find it a great way to stretch.

Mine is now outdated compared to the modern models, but I’ve never had a single problem with it and it continues to give me a unique and comforting way to stretch out my aching back.

Here’s how Teeter describes the product:

UNMATCHED COMFORT & SUPPORT: Patented wrap-around ankle cups are made from specialty foam. Contoured Bed with Hand Grips flexes for comfort and optimizes stretch for maximum relief.
HIGH GRADE MATERIALS FOR RELIABILTY: Heavy-gauge steel parts with patented security features like auto-locking hinges, cam locks,specialized pivot bearings for durability.
PRECISION ROTATION FOR TOTAL CONTROL: Shift your body weight with just simple arm movements for easy return to the upright position.
TRUST TEETER: UL Safety Certification; 5-year Full Warranty; Easy 5-Step Assembly; 35-Year Legacy; 300 LB user capacity.


Check out this Video by Teeter

Teeter EP 560 Model shown.

Currently under $300 on Amazon.

Please share your thoughts below. Have you noticed a loss of height yet? Also, please feel free to drop me a line at: I’ll be glad to answer any questions or help if I can.


December 27, 2016

Prevent Muscle Loss as You Age

Baby Boomers working out

You can help prevent muscle loss as you age. In fact, you can actually reverse the losses and build muscle as you age — starting at any age!

There is a Real Fountain of Youth

There is no other form of exercise better suited to improve your health and return your youth than Resistance Training.

In fact, science has demonstrated that Resistance Training can actually reverse damage to our genes caused by aging. In effect, this restoration can make us genetically youthful again. In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes on Aging, it was found that resistance training literally does reverse the aging process. The study found that:

“After 26 weeks of resistance training, the researchers identified 179 genes associated with age and exercise showing a reversal of their gene expression. This means quite literally that the resistance training was not only slowing but also reversing the aging process at the gene level.”

Interestingly, the study used a training method similar to the one we promote here at BoomerMuscle. 3-5 Sets of each exercise. High reps. Lighter weights.

“Resistance exercise for each session consisted of 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each of; leg press, chest press, leg extension, leg flexion, shoulder press, lat pull-down seated row, calf raise, abdominal crunch, and back extension and 10 repetitions for arm flexion and arm extension.”


Loss of muscle mass due to aging is called “Sarcorpenia.” Your doctor has probably never even brought it up to you. In my opinion, that could be because he or she:

  • Really doesn’t know much about it
  • There are no standard tests available to detect or diagnose it
  • It can’t be fixed with just a pill or a prescription

Meanwhile, sarcopenia is nearly an epidemic that can have a very serious impact on your quality of life. It’s estimated that more than 30% of people over 60 suffer from it. Physically inactive people can lose 3-5% of their muscle mass starting at age 30 — and it accelerates from there.

The main symptoms of sarcopenia are decreased muscle mass and strength. Additional impacts include decreased mobility, falls and fractures, decreased activity levels and fat gain from lack of activity.

Bottom line, sarcopenia robs us of our freedom. And as we age, we also face the loss of bone mass due to osteoporosis, adding frailty to the list. Recent studies have shown that strength training can also control osteoporosis and may even help to grow new bone tissue.

So, we can beat these negative aspects of aging by following a simple plan:

  1. Exercise: Specifically, resistance training. You don’t have to go heavy or try to become a bodybuilder. You can adopt a light-weight, higher-repetition form of training that is highly effective at building muscle (more on this later).
  2. Eat better. Focus on getting enough protein in your diet. Eggs, lean meat, salmon, tuna, chicken, beans, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese are among foods that are high in quality protein. You can also use Whey Protein supplements.
  3. Supplement Omega 3 fatty acids. They have been found to influence muscle protein metabolism, especially in aging adults. Try fish oil or flaxseed oil.
  4. Take Vitamin D. Studies have shown that Vitamin D and Calcium deficiencies are tied to decreased muscle and bone in older adults. The majority of adults in the U.S. are estimated to have serious deficiencies in Vitamin D.


If you are over 40, you should ask your doctor to review your hormone levels.

Men can have DHEA and Testosterone levels checked. Testosterone is the main muscle building hormone. Low levels can be supplemented by your doctor.

For women, hormonal balance can also have a direct effect on sarcopenia. Menopause is linked to reduced concentrations of a hormone called estradiol in middle-aged and older women. Again, your doctor can help to ensure your hormonal levels are in proper balance.

BoomerMuscle: dedicated to helping Baby Boomers build muscle

This site is chock full of articles on how to build muscle for older people. Please have a look around and check out a few of them. Here is a good example that gives an overview of a workout routine. There are many more articles on this site. Please see categories like Build Muscle 50+, Men Building Muscle and Women Building Muscle.

For more on Sarcopenia, see this article from WebMd.

Please join us on Facebook. The Boomer page posts unique content with tons of current articles on fighting back against the aging process.

What are your thoughts on fighting back against aging? Please share them below in Comments. 

December 14, 2016

Effects of Aging on Skeletal Muscles


The effects of aging on skeletal muscles is dramatic. Sarcopenia will deplete your muscles steadily each decade after 40 until by 70, nearly half your muscle mass will have vanished — If you fail to do something about it.

Eating spinach, as good as it is for you, won’t do it alone. Even Popeye, in spite of those prodigious forearms, was pretty scrawny everywhere else. And he kind of walked hunched over.  

With all due respect to the old Sailor, there is only one proven method to stop this wasting, and even reverse it. Resistance Training.

Only 1 Thing Works

The prestigious Oxford University Journals, with the British Geriatrics Society, studied 3 methods to stop skeletal muscle loss due to aging: Testosterone replacement (in men), Human Growth Hormone replacement and Resistance Training.

It found that only 1 method worked: “Resistance training remains the most effective intervention for increasing muscle mass and strength in older people. Elderly people have reduced food intake and increased protein requirements. As a result, adequate nutrition is sometimes a barrier to obtaining full benefits from resistance training in this population.”

3 Types of Muscle in our Bodies

Cardiac muscles pump our heart and bloodstream. Organ muscles work our internal organs, other than the heart. These are involuntary muscles, meaning we don’t consciously activate them.

Skeletal muscles are those attached to our skeleton. They are voluntary. They work when we tell them to move. If we don’t move much, they don’t get much work.

They respond to vigorous resistance exercise by growing and we become stronger.


The growth process works like this.

  1. You perform resistance exercises targeting a muscle a group, with a goal to take it to exhaustion in the course of your workout. This process causes microscopic damage to the muscle fibers.
  2. You eat a good diet with proper nutrients, especially protein, which is the building block of muscle tissue.
  3. As you rest and sleep, your body uses those nutrients to repair the micro damage, and you are slightly stronger as result. Rest and repeat.

Takes Time & Commitment

This is a gradual process. It takes commitment to a solid workout plan and time. Rest and proper nutrition are key.

You can use traditional weights, machines, resistance bands or bodyweight. Your muscles don’t think, they simply respond to the resistance in whatever way it comes.

You may feel a soreness as a result of this process. It’s called a “pump” or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This is the effect of hypertrophy. A little DOMS is a good thing. Pain is not. Forget the old saying “no pain, no gain.” Think DOMS. Actual pain is always a signal something is wrong.

1 of the Big Problems — Too Much Noise in the “Fitness Industry”

When it comes to choosing a workout plan, the internet and the media are full of it. There are a zillion different workout plans out there. Most of them are designed for 20 or 30 somethings. There’s a ton of marketing noise aimed at us.

Brian Patterson @ 60

We need a muscle-building plan that works for Baby Boomers. You know, people who’ve lived for a while and collected a variety of physical issues over time. My list includes: a right knee hanging by a thread, heart attack, triple bypass, colon surgery and some arthritis in my shoulders. Yet, I’ve found a method that works great. I have more muscle today than I did in my 20’s.

You’re not going to get me to jump up and down off wooden crates or flip tractor tires — no matter how loud you yell encouragement at me

The truth is, what works is pretty simple. It doesn’t require insanity or pain.

Here you can see an article outlining an overall workout plan. And here’s a post looking specifically at the Glutes. There are more workouts on the site, as well, and more good stuff coming all the time. Hang around a bit and check things out. I would love to help you get going.

You can get started on a Resistance Training program quickly and easily. This article reviews a few sets of Resistance Bands. They are inexpensive and highly effective. You can workout at home, or anywhere. The entire set fits in a small travel bag.

If you struggle getting quality protein in your daily diet, here’s a story on the only 2 supplements that actually work to help you build muscle (in my humble opinion). Protein and Creatine.

Please have a look around. There are lots of helpful articles, more workout plans and more stuff coming all the time.

Please share any questions or comments you might have below. I will gladly answer all. And please feel free to drop me a line: