Whether it's the result of reduced mobility or suffering an injury, a lot of elderly people can experience muscle loss.
This can limit the amount they are able to be independent, and can be difficult to resolve once the issue has presented itself as older people may be left unable to rebuild any lost muscle.
However, a new study has suggested the solution may be fairly simple. Research from McMaster University has found that physical activity can help retain, and even repair and regenerate damaged muscle in the elderly.
Published in the FASEB journal, the findings challenge some current opinion that muscle loss is just an inevitable part of the body ageing, and that muscle atrophy and damage cannot be completely repaired in old age.
To discover this, the team compared and analysed the ability of elderly mice to repair muscle tissue in three groups: young mice, a group of old sedentary mice and a group of old exercise-trained mice.
After eight weeks of exercise, the researchers found that the old mice were able to repair and rebuild muscle more quickly, compared to elderly mice who had not been getting the same level of physical activity.
This muscle repair was found to be comparable to that of young mice after a period of 28 days.
"The world's older population is rapidly growing and preventing muscle loss and promoting muscle repair is paramount to preserve health," says Dr Gianni Parise, lead author of the study and an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster.
He said the findings suggest that age-related muscle problems could be resolved with regular exercise and that it can be used as a preventative measure in adults as they age.
"Quite simply, this demonstrates the importance of remaining active throughout life," Dr Parise explained. "Regular exercise can preserve basic processes that govern muscle health."
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