Regular Exercise During Middle Age Can Help Strength Later On

Regular exercise during middle adulthood found to help prevent loss of muscle mass and function in old age

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Elderly people often experience a loss of strength and muscle function as they get older. There may be a way to help prevent this loss.

A recent study found that regular exercise during middle age can help decrease the likelihood of losing muscle mass and function in older age.

The researchers discovered that the chances of disability caused by this muscle loss increased as age increased.

"Talk to a doctor about strength testing during middle adulthood."

The lead author of this study was Shigeyuki Muraki from the Department of Clinical Motor System Medicine of the 22 Century Medical and Research Center, at the University of Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan.

Sarcopenia is a condition characterized by loss of skeletal muscle mass and muscle strength and function. The condition has the potential to lead to physical disability, poor quality of life and premature death.

This study used 1,000 participants who had completed a second visit in a previous study called the Research on Osteoarthritis/osteoporosis Against Disability (ROAD) study. 

The researchers from the ROAD study used bioimpedance analysis to evaluate the participants' handgrip strength, gait speed and skeletal muscle mass. This type of testing measures the body's response to small electrical shocks.

Gait speed measures the pattern in which a person moves and can determine the ability to function normally.

The current study included 349 men and 651 women who were 65 years old and older.

The researchers asked all the participants to self-report their exercise habits. Then, they asked the participants to perform a chair stand test and one-leg stand test.

A chair stand test counts the number of times a participant is able to fully stand up from a sitting position in a certain amount of time. A one-leg stand test measures how long a participant can stand on one leg and maintain balance with their eyes open and then closed.

The findings showed that 14 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women had sarcopenia.

The condition was more prevalent as the participants' age increased.

The researchers found that regular exercise in middle age was associated with almost a 50 percent decreased risk of sarcopenia compared to participants who did not exercise regularly in middle age.

This study was presented on December 14 at the International Osteoporosis Regionals 4th Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting in Hong Kong. It was also published in the December edition of Osteoporosis International.

Review Date: 
December 13, 2013
Last Updated:
December 14, 2013