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Measurement of muscle health in aging

Francis, P and Lyons, M and Piasecki, M and McPhee, J and Hind, K and Jakeman, P (2017) Measurement of muscle health in aging. Biogerontology, 18 (6). pp. 901-911. ISSN 1389-5729

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Abstract

Muscle health is a critical component in the struggle against physical frailty and the efforts to maintain metabolic health until the limit of chronological age. Consensus opinion is to evaluate muscle health in terms of muscle mass, strength and functional capability. There has been considerable variability in the components of muscle health which have been investigated in addition to variability in the tools of assessment and protocol for measurement. This is in stark contrast to the validated measurement of bone health across the adult life span. The purpose of this review was to identify indices of muscle mass, strength and functional capability most responsive to change with ageing and where possible to provide an estimate of the rate of change. We suggest lean tissue mass (LTM) or skeletal muscle (SM) is best evaluated from the thigh region due to its greater responsiveness to ageing compared to the whole body. The anterior compartment of the thigh region undergoes a preferential age-related decline in SM and force generating capacity. Therefore, we suggest that knee extensor torque is measured to represent the force generating capacity of the thigh and subsequently, to express muscle quality (strength per unit tissue). Finally, we suggest measures of functional capability which allow participants perform to a greater maximum are most appropriate to track age-related difference in functional capacity across the adult lifespan. This is due to their ability encompass a broad spectrum of abilities. This review suggests indices of muscular health for which reference ranges can be generated across the lifespan.

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