Caloric restriction and physical exercise have proven beneficial against age-associated changes in body composition and declining physical performance; however, little is known regarding what benefit these interventions might have when initiated late in life. The study of mimetics of diet and exercise and the combination thereof may provide additional treatments for a vulnerable elderly population; however, how and when to initiate such interventions requires consideration in developing the most safe and efficacious treatment strategies. In this review, we focus on preclinical late-life intervention studies, which assess the relationship between physical function, sarcopenia, and body composition. We provide a conceptual framework for the ever-changing definition of sarcopenia and a rationale for the use of an appropriate rodent model of this condition. We finish by providing our perspective regarding the implications of this body of work and future areas of research that may also contribute to the ultimate goal of extending healthspan. © 2011 The Author.