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  • Writer's pictureFit For Life

Newsletter: Aging and our skeletal muscles.

Updated: May 18, 2022

This newsletter provides information on skeletal muscle changes with aging.

Skeletal muscle

Is voluntary i.e. it is controlled consciously​. There are >700 skeletal muscles in the human body​. It enables us to move, maintain posture and control reflexes​. The % of skeletal muscle in body weight varies though it can be up to: ​females=~23%, males= >40% (Nieman, 2003).

How does aging effect our skeletal muscles?

  • Decreased muscle mass (cross sectional area) and muscle fibre volume (type II fibres are most affected). Denervation of fibres may occur too.

  • Decreased peak muscle strength, power and endurance​.

  • Decreased coordination of muscle contractions.

  • Decreased oxygen transport​.

  • Increased body fat, decreased glucose tolerance and deterioration of lipid profile.


Sarcopenia is age-related decreases in muscle mass, strength and function. Decreased nerve signal transmission and muscle activation​ also occur. This negatively affects gait, balance and ADL’s​ (activities of daily living) which leads to an increased risk of falls, injury and dependence.

- Begins in the mid-late 30's.

- Physically inactive can lose 3-5% muscle mass per decade from age 30 years.

- Has multi-factorial causes.

- 30-50% decrease in muscle mass by 80 years of age (Akima et al. 2001) and this is worsened by unloading of muscle in inactive older people (Bamman et al. 1998; Breen et al. 2013).

Sarcopenia is a major contributor to frailty in the older population resulting in further immobility with a loss of independence, as well as increasing the risk of other chronic diseases and morbidity (Coin et al. 2013).

How to prevent or slow down sarcopenia?

- Adequate nutrition and especially protein intake.

- Adequate physical activity and exercise levels – resistance & aerobic training NB

- Stress reduction/management

- Chronic disease/inflammation prevention/management (e.g. healthy lifestyle, limit alcohol intake, no smoking etc).

Happy to help!

We have >20 years’ experience delivering strength training and exercise for Older Adults! Check out our website for information on 1-1 and group fitness interventions And, don’t hesitate to contact one of our exercise and rehabilitation specialists or physiotherapists at or 01-2137915 if you have any questions!

Patricia O'Donnell GSR CAT BSc MSc

Fit For Life Ltd. 2022

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