Sedentariness may be an important risk factor for sarcopenia. The aim of this work was to assess the association between muscle mass and strength and markers of usual physical activity such as activity energy expenditure and peak oxygen uptake.
Young and old participants were assessed measuring body composition by DEXA (double beam X ray absorptiometry), handgrip strength, peak oxygen consumption and workload during an exercise calorimetry in a braked cycle ergometer and a 72 h activity energy expenditure using Actiheart actigraphs. A heart rate/energy expenditure curve derived from the exercise calorimetry was used to calibrate each actigraph. Sarcopenia was defined as having an appendicular fat free mass index below 7.5 kg/m2 and 5.6 kg/m2 in men and women respectively, or a handgrip strength z score below 1, using local normal data or having both parameters below the cutoff points.
We analyzed data from 192 assessments performed in participants aged 22 to 88 years (106 women). Sarcopenic participants (as determined by muscle mass, strength or both) had a significantly lower peak oxygen uptake and work load and a significantly lower activity energy expenditure. When analyzing lean mass and strength as continuous variables, peak oxygen consumption was a significant predictor of fat free mass in men. Among women, the association was observed only when percentage of muscle mass was expressed as a z score.
Activity energy expenditure and peak oxygen consumption are associated with a lower muscle mass and the presence of sarcopenia and should be considered as risk factors for this condition.