For Older Women, Healthy Habits Pay Off

Low muscle mass in women may be helped by healthy diet and exercise

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) For older adults, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can be important. For muscle mass loss, it may be crucial.

A new study found that older women who met vegetable consumption and exercise requirements cut their risk for losing muscle mass significantly.

“The odds of low muscle mass were lower in women with three or more healthy lifestyle factors versus none,” wrote lead study author Yunhwan Lee, MD, director of the Institute on Aging and professor of Preventive Medicine & Public Health at Ajou University School of Medicine in South Korea, and colleagues.

Seniors tend to lose muscle faster than middle-aged and young adults. Loss of muscle mass can lead to disability and falls.

Dr. Lee and team gave a food and exercise survey to 3,285 men and women age 65 or older. They also used X-rays to look at each patient’s muscle mass.

Women who ate the recommended amount of vegetables were much more likely than those who fell short to have normal muscle mass. In fact, those who didn't get the right amount of vegetables were twice as likely as the other patients to have low muscle mass. Women who got the recommended amount of aerobic exercise also had a 40 percent lower risk of low muscle mass that those who fell short.

In this study, healthy behaviors included getting the recommended amount of certain food groups and getting enough resistance and cardio exercise.

Resistance training (strength training or weight training) is the use of resistance to build the strength, endurance and size of muscles. Cardio exercise is any exercise that raises the heart rate.

These behaviors did not appear to affect muscle mass in men.

This study was published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The National Research Foundation of Korea funded this research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
May 21, 2015
Last Updated:
May 28, 2015