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Associations of sarcopenia components with physical activity and nutrition in Australian older adults performing exercise training

  • Akehurst, Ewelina1
  • Scott, David2, 3, 4
  • Rodriguez, Juan Peña5
  • Gonzalez, Carol Alonso5
  • Murphy, Jasmaine1
  • McCarthy, Helen1
  • Dorgo, Sandor6
  • Hayes, Alan1, 4, 7
  • 1 Victoria University, Footscray, Victoria, Australia , Footscray (Australia)
  • 2 Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia , Burwood (Australia)
  • 3 Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia , Clayton (Australia)
  • 4 Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science (AIMSS), St Albans, Victoria, Australia , St Albans (Australia)
  • 5 The National University of Colombia, Bogota, Colombia , Bogota (Colombia)
  • 6 University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA , El Paso (United States)
  • 7 The University of Melbourne, St Albans, Victoria, Australia , St Albans (Australia)
Published Article
BMC Geriatrics
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Apr 26, 2021
DOI: 10.1186/s12877-021-02212-y
Springer Nature


BackgroundThe risk of progressive declines in skeletal muscle mass and strength, termed sarcopenia, increases with age, physical inactivity and poor diet. The purpose of this study was to explore and compare associations of sarcopenia components with self-reported physical activity and nutrition in older adults participating in resistance training at Helsinki University Research [HUR] and conventional gyms for over a year, once a week, on average.MethodsThe study looked at differences between HUR (n = 3) and conventional (n = 1) gyms. Muscle strength (via handgrip strength and chair stands), appendicular lean mass (ALM; via dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) and physical performance (via gait speed over a 4-m distance, short physical performance battery, timed up and go and 400-m walk tests) were evaluated in 80 community-dwelling older adults (mean ± SD 76.5 ± 6.5 years). Pearson correlations explored associations for sarcopenia components with self-reported physical activity (via Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly [PASE]) and nutrition (via Australian Eating Survey).ResultsNo differences in PASE and the Australian Recommended Food Score (ARFS) were observed between HUR and conventional gyms, however HUR gym participants had a significantly higher self-reported protein intake (108 ± 39 g vs 88 ± 27 g; p = 0.029) and a trend to have higher energy intake (9698 ± 3006 kJ vs 8266 ± 2904 kJ; p = 0.055). In both gym groups, gait speed was positively associated with self-reported physical activity (r = 0.275; p = 0.039 and r = 0.423; p = 0.044 for HUR and conventional gyms, respectively). ALM was positively associated with protein (p = 0.047, r = 0.418) and energy (p = 0.038, r = 0.435) intake in the conventional gym group. Similar associations were observed for ALM/h2 in the HUR group. None of the sarcopenia components were associated with ARFS in either gym group.ConclusionOlder adults attending HUR and conventional gyms had similar self-reported function and nutrition (but not protein intake). Inadequate physical activity was associated with low gait speed and inadequate nutrition and low protein ingestion associated with low lean mas, even in older adults participating in exercise programs. Optimal physical activity and nutrition are important for maintaining muscle mass and function in older adults.

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