It is not known if a physically active lifestyle, without systematic training, is sufficient to combat age-related muscle and strength loss. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate if the maintenance of a physically active lifestyle prevents muscle impairments due to aging. To address this issue, we evaluated 33 healthy men with similar physical activity levels (IPAQ = 2) across a large range of ages. Functional (torque-angle and torque-velocity relations) and morphological (vastus lateralis muscle architecture) properties of the knee extensor muscles were assessed and compared between three age groups: young adults (30 ± 6 y), middle-aged subjects (50 ± 7 y) and elderly subjects (69 ± 5 y). Isometric peak torques were significantly lower (30% to 36%) in elderly group subjects compared with the young adults. Concentric peak torques were significantly lower in the middle aged (18% to 32%) and elderly group (40% to 53%) compared with the young adults. Vastus lateralis thickness and fascicles lengths were significantly smaller in the elderly group subjects (15.8 ± 3.9 mm; 99.1 ± 25.8 mm) compared with the young adults (19.8 ± 3.6 mm; 152.1 ± 42.0 mm). These findings suggest that a physically active lifestyle, without systematic training, is not sufficient to avoid loss of strength and muscle mass with aging.
Bruno Manfredini Baroni (Corresponding Author), Jeam Marcel Geremia, Rodrigo Rodrigues, Marcelo Krás Borges, and Marco Aurélio Vaz are with the Exercise Research Laboratory, Physical Education School, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil. Azim Jinha and Walter Herzog are with the Human Performance Laboratory, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.