All of us will undergo a progressive loss of muscle mass as we age called sacropenia. The key modifying variable is how quickly an individual loses this muscle mass over time. Previous research on resistance training has shown a significant reduction in the rate of this loss over time among both experienced and novice weight lifters. A new study examined which muscles are most susceptible to muscle mass loss with aging allowing for better exercise prescription and prevention.
Ikezoe and colleagues compared the cross sectional area of lower body muscles between 20 year old and 83 year old subjects (Arch Gerontology and Geriatrics. 2011). The authors then compared the muscle size differences between old and young participants to determine which muscles atrophied the most with the aging process. The smallest differences in muscle mass were noted in the thigh muscles including the quadricep and hamstring while the greatest differences were noted in the hips. On average these hip muscles were only 1/2 the size of their younger counterparts. This study highlights the importance of resistance training among all age groups, especially in the hip musculature. To learn more about the benefits of resistance training contact your local Physical Therapist.