Aging is often accompanied by a decline in physical abilities, including muscle strength.
A recent study from Ohio University has suggested that this weakness may be caused by impairments in brain and nerve function rather than changes in the muscles themselves.
The study involved 66 older adults with an average age in their 70s who were divided into three categories based on their measured performance on a physical test.
They were asked to push against resistance with their leg extensor muscles, using as much strength as they could generate.
When they reached their self-perceived limit, the muscle they were using was then stimulated electrically.
If this electrical stimulation caused the muscle to put out more force, it indicated that the strength limitation the person experienced came from somewhere other than the muscle itself.
The researchers found that the weaker the test subjects, the larger the boost their muscles got from the electrical stimulation.
The severely weak group, who were on average older, received a 14.2% increase in force, twice the 7.1% increase shown by those in the strong group.
These results suggest that the nervous system is a key factor in age-related weakness.
The findings could have important implications for addressing the loss of muscle strength that is common in older adults and can seriously reduce their mobility.
The study’s lead researcher, Brian Clark, explained that the nervous system plays a crucial role in muscle function.
Muscles are only capable of generating force if they are stimulated by nerves, which send signals from the brain and spinal cord to activate the muscle fibers.
Therefore, impairments in the nervous system’s ability to activate the muscles could lead to weakness and a decline in physical function.
The researchers emphasized that more research is needed to understand the relationship between the nervous system and muscle function in aging.
However, they believe that their findings have important implications for developing new interventions to address the age-related weakness.
Currently, exercise is the most effective intervention for maintaining muscle strength in older adults.
However, the study’s authors noted that exercise programs should be designed to target not only the muscles but also the nervous system.
They suggest that exercises that challenge the nervous system, such as balance training, may be particularly effective in improving physical function in older adults.
The study’s findings also suggest that treatments aimed at improving nerve function, such as nerve stimulation, may have the potential for addressing the age-related weakness.
However, more research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of these treatments in older adults.
In conclusion, the study provides strong evidence that the nervous system plays an important role in age-related weakness.
The findings could have important implications for developing new interventions to address this problem and improve the mobility and quality of life of older adults.
The research was published in JAMA Network Open and conducted by Brian Clark et al.
If you care about bone health, please read studies that vegetarian women have higher risk of hip fracture, and these vitamins could help reduce bone fracture risk.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.
Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.