Preventive and clinical management strategies for sarcopenia require exploring with the reported 33% prevalence of sarcopenia in the community, and the global ageing population. To the best of our knowledge, no study on the association of dietary protein intake, Nordic walking exercise (characterised by the use of two walking poles) and sarcopenia risk factors based on the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People consensus definition (low muscle mass + low muscle function) has been reported. This cross-sectional study investigated the relationship of sarcopenia risk factors in healthy community-dwelling individuals aged 45–74 y participating in Nordic walking or regular walking exercise (control). The influence of dietary protein intake was investigated as a potential confounding factor. The primary outcomes were muscle and fat estimates from Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis, body circumference measures (waist, hip, mid-thigh), and muscle strength (function) as measured by handgrip dynamometer. All participants (n = 37) tested normal for handgrip strength. Eleven percent of participants met the criteria for low muscle mass (appendicular muscle mass corrected for height: aMM/Ht2). The Nordic walking group tended to have non-statistically significant better body composition (% body fat: p = 0.39; % appendicular muscle mass/kg body mass: p = 0.40; waist-to-hip ratio: p = 0.21) and handgrip strength (kg/BMI: p = 0.72). Our study revealed a negative correlation between dietary protein intake and percent body fat (p < 0.001), a positive correlation between dietary protein and lean mass (p < 0.001), and between dietary protein and muscle strength (p = 0.005). Greater dietary protein intake and physical activity were associated with lower sarcopenia risk factors. Our pilot study showed that Nordic walking exercise for older adults compared with regular walking exercise may be more beneficial in decreasing sarcopenia risk factors, however further studies are warranted.
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