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New Study Suggests Endurance Athletes' Muscles Actually Get Better with Age

from Women's Running

According to a new study from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), instead of the atrophy we expect from our muscles as we age, they may be “getting better” and not diminishing as much as you may think. The catch? You need to strengthen them with endurance sports throughout your life to reap the benefits. Obviously, runners have a distinct advantage in sustaining muscular strength — if they run consistently over an extended period of time.

The Purpose Of The Study
The study, conducted by a team of professors and doctors from Switzerland, Pittsburgh and Florida, was to explore the lifelong effects of a lifetime of aerobic exercise in older endurance-trained master athletes (ages 60 to 75) compared with that of noncompetitive recreational younger athletes (ages 18 to 39) matched by frequency and mode of training.

The Results
The study found that older endurance-trained athletes had greater amounts of fats, stored in droplets in muscle cells (called intramyocellular lipids), which provide an important energy source for working muscles. Conversely, muscle from younger athletes contained more glycogen (glucose that serves as a form of energy storage) and less of the fats the older athletes showed. However, the older athletes had better fat burning capacity (metabolic efficiency) during exercise than their younger counterparts. more


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