Age-associated changes in skeletal muscles and their effect on mobility: An operational diagnosis of sarcopenia

Fulvio Lauretani, Cosimo Roberto Russo, Stefania Bandinelli, Benedetta Bartali, Chiara Cavazzini, Angelo Di Iorio, Anna Maria Corsi, Taina Rantanen, Jack M. Guralnik, Luigi Ferrucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sarcopenia, the reduction of muscle mass and strength that occurs with aging, is widely considered one of the major causes of disability in older persons. Surprisingly, criteria that may help a clinician to identify persons with impaired muscle function are still lacking. Using data from a large representative sample of the general population, we examined how muscle function and calf muscle area change with aging and affect mobility in men and women free of neurological conditions. We tested several putative indicators of sarcopenia, including knee extension isometric torque, handgrip, lower extremity muscle power, and calf muscle area. For each indicator, sarcopenia was considered to be present when the measure was >2 SDs below the mean. For all four measures, the prevalence of sarcopenia increased with age, both in men and women. The age-associated gradient in prevalence was maximum for muscle power and minimum for calf-muscle area. However, lower extremity muscle power was no better than knee-extension torque or handgrip in the early identification of poor mobility, defined either as walking speed

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1851-1860
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Elderly
  • Muscle power
  • Strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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