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Sport for the elderly: it is never too late to start training
A new study has shown that it is never too late to start exercising. The researchers found that older people who have never had sustainable training can build the same muscle mass as people of similar ages who have been active in sports for their entire lives.
The study by scientists from the University of Birmingham showed that even those who are not used to sports at all can benefit from strength exercises such as strength training. The study results were published in the specialist magazine "Frontiers in Physiology".
Muscle building skills in older men
As explained in a release, the research team around Dr. Leigh Breen of the University of Birmingham used the muscle building skills in two groups of older men. In the first group, there were well-trained "master athletes" - people in the 70s and 80s who trained all their lives and still compete at the highest level in their sport. The second group included healthy people of similar ages who had never participated in structured training programs.
All participants received a drink with "heavy water", which acted as a contrast medium in the body in order to be able to analyze how the proteins in the muscles developed. Then the subjects took part in a training session that included strength training on a training device. The researchers took muscle biopsies from participants 48 hours before and after the workout and examined them to look for signs of how the muscles responded to the workout.
Improve muscle strength outside of a gym
The scientists had expected that the “master athletes” would have an increased ability to build muscle over a longer period due to their above-average fitness level. In fact, the results showed that both groups had the same ability to build muscle through exercise.
"Our study clearly shows that it doesn't matter whether you have been training regularly all your life or not, you can also benefit from the training if you start at an old age," said study leader Dr. Leigh Breen. According to the researcher, "long-term and constant training, discipline and dedication" is of course the best approach to maintaining the health of the body, "but a later start in life will also help to delay age-related frailty and muscle weakness," says the expert.
“Current recommendations for strength training for older people are often quite vague. What is needed is more detailed instructions on how individuals can improve their muscle strength outside of a gym through activities within their own four walls - activities such as gardening, climbing stairs and descending, or carrying a shopping bag can be helpful if done as part of a regular training program. "(ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- University of Birmingham: It's never too late to start exercising, new study shows, (accessed: 01.09.2019), University of Birmingham
- Frontiers in Physiology: Comparable Rates of Integrated Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Between Endurance-Trained Master Athletes and Untrained Older Individuals, (accessed: 01.09.2019), Frontiers in Physiology