In a study called “Chronic Exercise Preserves Lean Muscle Mass in Masters Athletes”, researchers found that muscle degeneration through aging can be prevented by lifelong physical activity. Instead they say this degeneration might be due to chronic disuse. You can see it very clearly in the pictures. The first one is of a 40-year old triathlete, the second of a 74-year old sedentary man, and the third of a 74-year old triathlete. There’s nearly no difference between the two athletes.
In their own words:
It is commonly believed that with aging comes an inevitable decline from vitality to frailty. This includes feeling weak and often the loss of independence. These declines may have more to do with lifestyle choices, including sedentary living and poor nutrition, than the absolute potential of musculoskeletal aging.
In this study, we sought to eliminate the confounding variables of sedentary living and muscle disuse, and answer the question of what really happens to our muscles as we age if we are chronically active. This study and those discussed here show that we are capable of preserving both muscle mass and strength with lifelong physical activity.
Lifelong physical activity is something that we see in all great practitioners, especially in Gongfu and Taiji, which even traditionally encourage you to integrate them into your lifestyle for life. This goes hand in hand with another great article by Jason Ferruggia that makes a point by showing that age is no excuse for being unhealthy and unfit. Go over and read it!
Bottom line: No matter how old you are, simple lifestyle changes in nutrition and physical activity can make your life a whole lot better!
[First sutdy via EverymanTRI.com]