A team of Canadian researchers studying mice have found that exercising into old age could help muscles repair themselves as quickly as possible after injury.
The speed of muscle repair declines with age in many mammals, including humans, and it was once thought that after a certain age complete repair of the muscles after injury wasn’t possible.
This new research however suggests otherwise and adds to the growing body of evidence on the benefits of exercise even into old age.
To look at the effects of exercise on ageing muscles the team of researchers from McMaster University, Canada studied three groups of mice.
The first group included old mice that were exercise trained; the second, old mice that were not exercise trained; and the third young mice that were not exercise trained.
In the first group, the old mice trained three days a week for a period of eight weeks.
To compare the rate of muscle repair between each group the researchers injected the mice with a snake venom commonly used to induce muscle injury in rodent studies, with the researchers comparing the mice prior to muscle injury and again 10 and 28 days following the injury.
The results showed that after just eight weeks of exercise, the old mice benefited from faster muscle repair and regained more muscle mass than the old mice that had not exercised, with Thoru Pederson, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, which published the results, commenting that, “This is a clean demonstration that the physiological and metabolic benefits of exercise radiate to skeletal muscle satellite cells, the adult stem cells responsible for repair after injury, even in senescent animals,” before adding “Strikingly, even as the contractile elements of muscle tissue wane with age, the capacity of the satellite cells to respond to exercise cues is maintained.”
The results of the study also follow previous research which suggests the importance of looking after muscle health in old age.
In a large-scale study of seniors over the age of 65 carried out by Penn State University earlier this year, researchers found that that when compared to those who didn’t strength train, those who strength trained at least twice a week had a 41 per cent lower risk of cardiac death, 19 per cent lower risk of dying from cancer, and a 46 per cent lower risk of death for any health reason.
And UK researchers found in another study published this year that weight-lifting in addition to aerobic exercise provides huge health benefits for those over the age of 65 and can help seniors preserve vital muscle mass and strength.
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