Since there's no drug to treat sarcopenia, odds are you haven't heard much about it.
But don't wait for the ad campaign that will accompany the meds when they do inevitably come out--if you're a senior, or just hope to become one someday, learn more about this muscle-robbing condition now, while you can still lower your own risk.
Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle that can accompany old age, and a recent report in the New York Times estimates that about 10 percent of those over 60 years old have it.
And the older you get, the higher your risk.
Since the condition is believed to be caused at least in part by sedentary lifestyles and a lack of exercise, you can expect the numbers to grow rather dramatically in the coming years.
"In the future, sarcopenia will be known as much as osteoporosis is now," Dr. Bruno Vellas, president of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics, told the newspaper.
Researchers believe we slowly begin to lose muscle from the age of 30. By 50, we've lost about 10 percent of our muscle mass... and by 70, many people have lost as much as 40 percent.
That's not just an inconvenience that will make it more difficult to open a jar of sauce... it's a debilitating change in the body that can dramatically increase your risk of disability, and even cause you to lose your independence.
In fact, a study published a few years ago in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that sarcopenic women have 3.6 times the risk of disability, while men have 4.1 times the rate, of those without the condition.
And all that is costing us a ton of money. One estimate cited by the Times finds that sarcopenia-related disabilities cost $18.5 billion a year--or 1.5 percent of our total health care spending.
You know Big Pharma can't let a dollar sign with that many zeros pass by--so they're putting big money into developing meds aimed at sarcopenia. But you don't have to wait for those drugs--or suffer their side effects when they do become available--to fight this condition.
All you really need is the willingness to get a little more movement back into your life.
That means some regular walking or light jogging, and some basic resistance training. Use weights heavy enough to work the muscle, but not so heavy that you might hurt yourself.
Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist to find out what your limits may be.
The really good news here is that you don't have to join a gym, run endless miles on those hamster wheels they call "treadmills," or be able to bench press a Buick.
While the fitness freaks keep pounding the pavement and pumping iron, just fluffing the sofa cushions could be your best exercise. In fact, one MD says that the best way to maintain muscle is to do nothing at all! To find out more about his program, click here.
Remember, preserving that muscle could be the key to preserving your lifestyle.