That was the title of the February 20th Health and Fitness section of the Globe and Mail.
Dr. Vonda Wright, an orthopedic surgeon at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine in Pittsburgh, submitted the results of a study on muscle preservation in older adults.
The study was focused on the ‘myth’ of muscle loss. Through a series of fitness tests on subjects between the ages of 40 and 81, Dr. Wright offered convincing evidence that the “typical” loss of muscle that begins in adults around the age of 40 has more to do with lack of use than aging alone. Two interesting points in this research: the subjects were Master athletes and Dr. Wright used MRI scans to measure muscle and fat content. Dr. Wright pointed to the fact that most research is typically studying sedentary subjects to draw broad conclusions about the intrinsic effects of aging. Wright states, “When we talk about aging, we’re not usually studying what our bodies are actually capable of.” Dr. Wright wanted to take the factor of ‘disuse’ out of the picture.
A team from the Canadian Centre for Activity and aging at the University of Western Ontario looked at the question of disuse and motor units. Their work showed that the number of “motor units” in the legs of runners in their 60s was essentially unchanged from runners in their 20s. An important point, the study also looked at the effect of exercise on the whole body. For instance, can the sport of running produce total body effects?
The result: Older runners had a slightly higher number of arm motor units than their sedentary peers, but the difference wasn’t statistcally significant.
Both studies confirmed “use it or lose it”!
Dr. Wright points out that 70% of how we age is in our control. The other 30% we can blame our mothers for.
However, the vast majority of Canadians still don’t meet even minimum guidelines for physical activity! Yet, as Dr. Wright’s MRI pictures prove, current decisions about exercise will directly effect our quality of life a few decades down the road.
Sound the alarm! Get moving today to effect the health of your tomorrow!
Rise Up! Be Healthy!