Effects of exercise and amino acid supplementation on body composition and physical function in community-dwelling elderly Japanese sarcopenic women: a randomized controlled trial

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012 Jan;60(1):16-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03776.x. Epub 2011 Dec 5.


Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of exercise and amino acid supplementation in enhancing muscle mass and strength in community-dwelling elderly sarcopenic women.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Urban community in Tokyo, Japan.

Participants: One hundred fifty-five women aged 75 and older were defined as sarcopenic and randomly assigned to one of four groups: exercise and amino acid supplementation (exercise + AAS; n = 38), exercise (n = 39), amino acid supplementation (AAS; n = 39), or health education (HE; n = 39).

Intervention: The exercise group attended a 60-minute comprehensive training program twice a week, and the AAS group ingested 3 g of a leucine-rich essential amino acid mixture twice a day for 3 months.

Measurements: Body composition was determined using bioelectrical impedance analysis. Data from interviews and functional fitness parameters such as muscle strength and walking ability were collected at baseline and after the 3-month intervention.

Results: A significant group × time interaction was seen in leg muscle mass (P = .007), usual walking speed (P = .007), and knee extension strength (P = .017). The within-group analysis showed that walking speed significantly increased in all three intervention groups, leg muscle mass in the exercise + AAS and exercise groups, and knee extension strength only in the exercise + AAS group (9.3% increase, P = .01). The odds ratio for leg muscle mass and knee extension strength improvement was more than four times as great in the exercise + AAS group (odds ratio = 4.89, 95% confidence interval = 1.89-11.27) as in the HE group.

Conclusion: The data suggest that exercise and AAS together may be effective in enhancing not only muscle strength, but also combined variables of muscle mass and walking speed and of muscle mass and strength in sarcopenic women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amino Acids, Essential / administration & dosage*
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sarcopenia / epidemiology
  • Sarcopenia / physiopathology
  • Sarcopenia / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Amino Acids, Essential