Exercise: Your muscle’s fountain of youth

Washington: You may want start working out to turn back your ageing clock as a recent study has found that oldies, who exercise regularly, end up with metabolically younger muscles.

University of Guelph’s Geoff Power showed that elderly people, who were elite athletes in their youth or later in life and who still compete as masters athletes, have much healthier muscles at the cellular level compared to those of non-athletes.

The study compared world-class track and field athletes in their 80s with people of the same age who are living independently and found that athletes’ legs were 25 per cent stronger on average and had about 14 per cent more total muscle mass.

In addition, the athletes had nearly one-third more motor units in their leg muscles than non-athletes. More motor units, consisting of nerve and muscle fibres, mean more muscle mass and subsequently greater strength.

With normal aging, the nervous system lose motor neurons, leading to a loss of motor units, reduced muscle mass, less strength, speed and power. That process speeds up substantially past age 60.

Power said, “Exercise is definitely an important contributor to functional performance,” adding that even non-athletes can benefit. “Staying active, even later in life, can help reduce muscle loss.”

But, he added that further research is needed to determine whether muscle health in elite athletes comes from training or genes.

The study appears in the Journal of Applied Physiology. (ANI)