Sports Medicine Research: In the Lab & In the Field: Physical Inactivity and Body Fatness May Influence the Association Between Sarcopenia And Osteoporosis (Sports Med Res)
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Physical Inactivity and Body Fatness May Influence the Association Between Sarcopenia And Osteoporosis

Body Fat and Physical Activity Modulate the Association Between Sarcopenia and Osteoporosis in Elderly Korean Women

Lee I, Cho J, Ji Y, Ha C, Kim T, & Kang H; Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2016, 15: 477-482.

Take Home Message: Increased body fat and physical inactivity may be modifiable risk factors for osteoporosis and sarcopenia.

Sports medicine clinicians are obligated to educate young patients about maintaining long-term wellness and promoting physical activity among all patients. Sarcopenia, or the loss of muscle mass, may lead to greater chance of falls in the aging population. This is of special concern because this population’s high risk of osteoporosis, which causes frail bones. Modifiable factors, such as physical inactivity, may influence the association between sarcopenia and osteoporosis but there is a need to further explore this possibility. Therefore, the authors aimed to: (1) determine the association between sarcopenia and osteoporosis in Korean women 65 years and older, and (2) determine if body fatness and physical activity modulate the association between sarcopenia and osteoporosis among aging, Korean women. A sample of 269 Korean women participated in the study. Data collection included demographic characteristics, questionnaires, interviews conducted by geriatric nurses, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (for body composition and bone measurements), and physical activity measured by wearing an accelerometer for 7 consecutive days. Researchers found that lower body mass index and less physical activity was related with poor bone health. Researchers determined that aging Korean women with sarcopenia were more likely to have osteoporosis/osteopenia. The relationship between sarcopenia and bone health may be influenced by increased body fat or physical inactivity.

The findings of this study among Korean women are important because they are consistent with prior studies conducted among other ethnicities. Considered collectively, this research allows for greater generalizability of the relationship between physical inactivity, sarcopenia, and poor bone health. The cross-sectional design of this study prevented the authors from identifying a cause-and-effect relationship between lifestyle factors to sarcopenia and osteoporosis. However, body fatness and physical inactivity are risk factors associated with osteoporosis and sarcopenia. This offers additional evidence that we must educate patients about the importance of physical activity as we age. It would be interesting to see a follow-up study that measured physical activity for a longer time and included women who need an assistive device for walking. In this study, physical activity levels could be inaccurate because of a possible increase in physical activity while wearing an accelerometer for seven days. Despite this limitation, clinicians should consider physical inactivity and body fatness as risk factors for sarcopenia and osteoporosis and address these issues when developing prevention or intervention programs for these diseases. Sports Med Res previously described a study where the authors reported that many former collegiate athletes fail to meet exercise guidelines. Hence, we need to do more to educate our patients about the importance of physical activity to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, sarcopenia, and osteoporosis.

Questions for Discussion: Would the inclusion of men, in addition to women, allow for an increased chance in a cause-and-effect relationship to be seen between body fatness and sarcopenia/osteoporosis?  What types of prevention and intervention programs could be implemented to help combat sarcopenia and osteoporosis?

Written by: Mariel Crawford
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban

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Ahedi, H.OL., Aitken, D., Scott, D., Blizzard, L., Cicuttini, F. & Jones G. (2014). The association between hip muscle cross-sectional area, muscle strength, and bone mineral density. Calcified Tissue International. 95. 64-72.



Lee I, Cho J, Jin Y, Ha C, Kim T, & Kang H (2016). Body Fat and Physical Activity Modulate the Association Between Sarcopenia and Osteoporosis in Elderly Korean Women. Journal of sports science & medicine, 15 (3), 477-482 PMID: 27803626

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