Exercise and nutritional needs of elderly people: effects on muscle and bone.
Advancing age is associated with a remarkable number of changes in body composition. Reductions in lean body mass have been well characterized. This decreased lean body mass occurs primarily as a result of losses in skeletal muscle mass. This age-related loss in muscle mass has been termed sarcopenia. Loss in muscle mass accounts for the age-associated decreases in basal metabolic rate, muscle strength, and activity levels, which, in turn is the cause of the decreased energy requirements of the elderly. In sedentary individuals, the main determinant of energy expenditure is fat-free mass, which declines by about 15% between the third and eighth decade of life. It also appears that declining caloric needs are not matched by an appropriate decline in caloric intake, with the ultimate result an increased body fat content with advancing age. Increased body fatness along with increased abdominal obesity are thought to be directly linked to the greatly increased incidence of Type II diabetes among the elderly. This review will discuss the extent to which regularly performed exercise can effect nutritional needs and functional capacity in the elderly. In addition, some basic guidelines for beginning an exercise program for older men and women, and establishing community-based programs are provided.
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