Sarcopenia definition: Does it really matter? Implications for resistance training?

Cassandra Smith, Mary N. Woessner, Marc Sim, Itamar Levinger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


The loss of muscle mass, strength and function, known as sarcopenia, is common in older adults, and is associated with falls, fractures, cardiometabolic diseases, and lower quality of life. Sarcopenia can also occur secondarily to chronic diseases. Recently, sarcopenia was recognized as a disease with an International Classification of Disease (ICD) code, yet, at least five definitions for its clinical identification exist. Most definitions include three themes: low muscle mass, strength and physical performance. However, the definitions vary by the number of themes needed to diagnose sarcopenia and, within each theme various parameters and cut-off levels exist. The lack of consensus on what constitutes a diagnosis can create confusion and hesitation in sarcopenia diagnosis. Currently, no pharmacological treatment exists for sarcopenia. Resistance training (RT) is safe and effective to improve muscle mass, strength and physical performance in older adults and clinical populations. Based on current guidelines, whether an individual is defined as “sarcopenic”, or not, does not change the way RT is prescribed. Here, we present evidence and the inconsistencies in sarcopenia definitions and recommend that focus should be on optimizing ways to prescribe RT and increase long-term adherence, rather than on slight modifications to sarcopenia definitions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101617
JournalAgeing Research Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


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