Senior exercises are not necessarily at a disadvantage when it comes to building muscle, regardless of their previous experience or lack thereof, according to a new study from the University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
For the study, published on Aug. 30, researchers separated their senior participants into two groups: master athletes and healthy non-athletes. The former group consisted of seniors over the age of 70 who had lifted weights for most of their lives and continued to do so, while the latter group consisted of healthy seniors who had never participated in structured workout programs.
Isotope tracers were used to track the development of each participant's muscle proteins during regimented strength workouts, and participants were later subjected to muscle biopsies to assess indicators of muscle damage and growth after the workouts.
The study found that the master athletes did not build muscle at a faster rate than their counterparts. In fact, both groups built muscle at a generally equal rate. This is good news for the fight against sarcopenia, the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass that is associated with aging.
The study authors state: “Our findings demonstrate no discernible difference in rested-state nor, contrary to our hypothesis, exercise-induced [myofibrillar protein synthesis] rates between [the groups]. Furthermore, we observed no clear difference in the [protein complex]-mediated signaling response to exercise between [the groups]. Taken together, these data suggest that despite divergent long-term exercise habits in [the master group], [the non-athletes] possess a similar capacity to upregulate intramuscular signaling and myofibrillar protein synthesis in response to unaccustomed exercise contraction.”
Longevity is seniors' top reason for regularly exercising, according to a recent report by MINDBODY.