It is often said that muscle and strength decline as a function of aging alone. This means that as you get older you are naturally going to lose strength and muscle mass and there is not much you can do about it. A new study by Dr Vonda Wright and her colleagues, that can be found at the The Physician and Sports medicine, may counteract this belief. They took detailed measurements of 40 masters athletes between the ages of 40 and 81, and found a surprising lack of age related muscle loss. They suggested that these declines that are usually seen may signal the effect of chronic disuse rather than muscle aging.
The pictures shown below demonstrate this quite clearly. The first picture shows a scan of a 40 year old triathletes’ thighs. It shows how there is significant muscle mass and very little fat present. The second picture shows a 74 year old, sedentary mans’ thighs. It shows significant muscle wasting and significant fat tissue.
The final picture is of a 70 year old triathletes’ thighs. It shows a remarkable similarity to the 40 year olds thighs with very little muscle wasting and fat tissue present. Obviously a triathlete, whether they are 40 or 70 years old is going to be doing a lot of training, however doing any sort of physical activity as you age is going to be very important to help prevent the sort of muscle wasting that can be seen in the second picture. The take home message from this research is to get out there and start doing some physical activity and basic resistance exercises. It can make a big difference!