Friday, November 18, 2011

New Hope for Old Muscles : Muscle loss with age is not inevitable by Jerry Brainum

A new study examined the effects of endurance training on muscle maintenance with advancing age.1 What’s particularly interesting about it is that it involved endurance exercise, which isn’t usually associated with maintaining much muscle.

   Previous studies have found that in most people, leg strength peaks at age 30, then remains stable until about age 50. At that point strength decreases at a rate of about 12 to 15 percent per decade. Older people show average strength levels of 20 to 40 percent less than people in their 30s. The decline in strength is linked to a loss of muscle due to inactivity.

   In the new study of endurance athletes, master runners, aged 40 to 88, showed no decline in leg strength until after age 70. Those in their 70s had strength levels similar to runners in their 30s. Most impressive was the finding that the older runners showed no loss of type 2 fast-twitch muscle fibers—the type most associated with muscle strength and the type of muscle fiber usually lost with advanced age—until they were in their 80s.

1 Tarpenning, K.L., et al. (2004). Endurance training delays age of decline in leg strength and muscle morphology. Med Sci Sports Exer. 36:74-78.

©,2013 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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