Losing muscle mass is thought to be an inevitable part of aging after 40 years of age, but this is based almost entirely on observations of sedentary aduls. More recent research published in The Physician and Sports Medicine, however, shows that muscle mass and strength can be maintained well into old age, which can have positive impacts on your overall physical health and quality of life.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh recruited masters level athletes aged 40 to 81 years old who work out four to five times each week. They saw that athletes who continue to train and compete into old age have low fat levels in their leg muscles. Check out these MRI scans of the thighs, for example, from a 40 year old triathlete, a 74 year old sedentary man, and a 70 year old triathlete.
The athlete legs are lean cuts of free range sirloin, while the sedentary individual looks like a well marbled chunk of prime rib cut from a cow confined to the feedlot and fattened up for slaughter on a diet of corn chips and beer.
What’s the benefit for you? Low muscle mass is associated with a higher likelihood of physical disability, balance problems, falls, and the use of walkers to get around. It’s also associated with metabolic disoders like diabetes. The masters level athletes in this study, however, have high levels of physical strength, independence, and quality of life compared to some of their sedentary peers.
Read more at The Physician and Sports Medicine: Chronic Exercise Preserves Lean Muscle Mass in Masters Athletes. Via Ultra Rob.