New research on weightlifting has revealed two ideas: that the practice is able to strengthen the connections between nerves and muscles, and that this strengthening can still occur in the last years of our lives.
We actually start losing muscle mass before the age of 40, in part because of a reduction in muscle fibers that occurs when motor neurons – cells in the brain and spinal cord that direct our bodies to move – decompose.
This decline cannot be stopped, but the new study shows that it can be slowed down significantly. According to the results of the study, weight training strengthens the connections between nerves and muscles, thus protecting the motor neurons of the spinal cord, essential for the proper functioning of the body.
“Previously, researchers had not been able to prove that resistance training could strengthen the connection between motor neurons and muscles. Our study is the first to present results suggesting that this is indeed the case,” says the physiologist. of the Casper Søndenbroe exercise from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
This is partly due to difficulties in removing enough tissue from where muscle and nerve cells connect so that meaningful measurements can be made. To overcome this, the researchers instead looked for biomarkers related to the stability of the junctions between neurons and muscles in the participants’ biopsy samples.
The research involved 38 healthy older men, with an average age of 72, who were asked to complete a 16-week course of fairly intensive strength training including leg presses, leg extensions, squats legs and two exercises for the arms. Another group of 20 healthy older men, again with an average age of 72, did not do strength training and were used as a control comparison.
Weight training sessions were held three times a week and after two months (halfway through the experiment), differences in muscle size and physical fitness could be observed. The researchers took muscle biopsies and found detectable changes in biomarkers.
From twinges in the back to pain in the knees, the indication is that strength training can slow some of this breakdown between the muscles and the nervous system, without actually reversing it. The researchers suggest that starting earlier in life can build up “reserves” for the body to fall back on.
“The study shows that even if you start late in life, you can still make a difference,” says Søndenbroe.
“Of course, the earlier you start the better, but it’s never too late, even if you’re 65 or 70. Your body can still benefit from training with heavy weights.”
Although this study was done on men, this also applies to women: for example, older women, who are more prone to osteoporosis, benefit from resistance training just as much as men.
As many populations around the world continue to live longer and longer, the issue of preserving a good quality of life in our twilight years is becoming increasingly important – and that includes maintaining the best possible functioning. muscles.
Although some biological processes cannot be stopped over the years, research has shown that diet, along with exercise, can protect against some of the damage that old age can make us vulnerable to.
The next step in this particular area of research is to determine how strength training helps nerves and muscles stay together.
“Now we need to figure out what specific mechanisms allow strength training to strengthen the connection with the nervous system,” says Søndenbroe.
“To do this, we need to introduce different methods, although our goal remains to ensure that as many older people as possible not only live longer, but also enjoy well-being.”
The research was published in the American Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology.
#Weight #lifting #age #muscles #strong