Effect of Exercise on Secondary Sarcopenia: A Comprehensive Literature Review

Rashmi Supriya*, Kumar Purnendu Singh, Yang Gao, Yaodong Gu, Julien S. Baker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Sarcopenia has been recognized as an inevitable part of aging. However, its severity and the age at which it begins cannot be predicted by age alone. The condition can be categorized into primary or age-related sarcopenia and secondary sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is diagnosed as primary when there are no other specific causes. However, secondary sarcopenia occurs if other factors, including malignancy or organ failure, are evident in addition to aging. The prevalence of secondary sarcopenia is far greater than that of primary sarcopenia and requires special attention. To date, nutrition and exercise have proven to be the best methods to combat this disease. The impact of exercise on subjects suffering from sarcopenia with a specific morbidity is worthy of examination for understanding and prevention. The purpose of this review, therefore, is to summarize recent research that has investigated the impact of exercise in patients with secondary sarcopenia, specifically with one comorbidity.

Methods: Pubmed, Web of Science, Embase and Medline databases were searched comprehensively with no date limit for randomized controlled trials. The literature was specifically searched for clinical trials in which subjects were sarcopenic with only one comorbidity participating in an exercise intervention. The most visible comorbidities identified and used in the search were lung disease, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, neurological diseases, osteoporosis and arthritis.

Results: A total of 1752 studies were identified that matched the keywords. After removing duplicates, there were 1317 articles remaining. We extracted 98 articles for full screening. Finally, we included 21 relevant papers that were used in this review.

Conclusion: Despite a strong rationale for using exercise to improve muscle mass, quality or physical function in subjects with cancer, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, lung disease and many more, baseline sarcopenia evaluation has been reported in very few trials. The limited number of studies does not allow us to conclude that exercise can improve sarcopenia in patients with other comorbidities. This review highlights the necessity for wide-ranging research initiatives involving secondary sarcopenic patients.
Original languageEnglish
Article number51
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • exercise
  • human studies
  • literature review
  • secondary sarcopenia


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