Aging is characterized by numerous physical, physiological, biochemical, and molecular changes. The rates at which aging processes occur are highly variable among individuals and are thought to be governed by both environmental and genetic factors. Lifestyle factors such as exercise, dietary, and smoking habits have been demonstrated to alter many of the changes usually associated with human aging. However, at present caloric restriction is the only experimental paradigm that has consistently been demonstrated in animal models to extend not only physiological vigor but also life span. The positive effects of exercise on physiological fitness and the reduction in the risks of certain diseases have been well documented. However, its effects on life span are not as clear. This article explores some of the basic mechanisms thought to be involved causally in the processes of aging, and outlines current and potential interventive strategies to retard or ameliorate the rates of decline in physiological function with advancing age.
George T. Baker III and George R. Martin
Carlos A. Muniesa, Zoraida Verde, Germán Diaz-Ureña, Catalina Santiago, Fernando Gutiérrez, Enrique Díaz, Félix Gómez-Gallego, Helios Pareja-Galeano, Luisa Soares-Miranda and Alejandro Lucia
Growing evidence suggests that regular moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with an attenuation of leukocyte telomere length (LTL) shortening. However, more controversy exists regarding higher exercise loads such as those imposed by elite-sport participation.
The authors investigated LTL differences between young elite athletes (n = 61, 54% men, age [mean ± SD] 27.2 ± 4.9 y) and healthy nonsmoker, physically inactive controls (n = 64, 52% men, 28.9 ± 6.3 y) using analysis of variance (ANOVA).
Elite athletes had, on average, higher LTL than control subjects, 0.89 ± 0.26 vs 0.78 ± 0.31, P = .013 for the group effect, with no significant sex (P = .995) or age effect (P = .114).
The results suggest that young elite athletes have longer telomeres than their inactive peers. Further research might assess the LTL of elite athletes of varying ages compared with both age-matched active and inactive individuals.
Kristen M. Metcalf, Elena M. Letuchy, Steven M. Levy and Kathleen F. Janz
a Harpenden stadiometer (Holtain, Crymych, Pembrokeshire, United Kingdom) and weight (kg) using a Healthometer physician’s scale (Continental, Bridgeview, IL). Biological age (BA; chronological age − age at peak height velocity) was estimated at each visit from age 11 to 17 years using age, sex
Jorge Arede, António Paulo Ferreira, Oliver Gonzalo-Skok and Nuno Leite
youth basketball. Therefore, biological age should be considered to discriminate among the real and potential values of talented young players. One of the best ways to improve the understanding about athletes’ development is the creation of different maturity status categories. Current research groups
Thomas Cattagni, Vincent Gremeaux and Romuald Lepers
Master athletes, being free from the negative influence of physical inactivity, are considered as models for primary biological aging. 1 Study of the physiological characteristics of high-performance master athletes is essential to improve knowledge about the limits of human physiology with age
Yael Netz, Rebecca Goldsmith, Tal Shimony, Yosefa Ben-Moshe and Aviva Zeev
The trend of extended life expectancy along with a sedentary lifestyle is typical in Western cultures.
To explore adherence to physical activity recommendations in older adults in Israel.
A random sample of 1,536 Jews and 316 Arabs age 65+ were interviewed and divided into sufficiently active, insufficiently active, and inactive groups based on official guidelines.
Only 36.4% of the Jewish sector and 19.6% of the Arab sector are sufficiently active. Men are more active than women, the secular are more active than the religious among both Jews and Arabs, and more years of education, a higher income, and fewer diseases and medications are related to higher levels of physical activity.
To slow down biological age decline with physical activity, intervention programs specifically tailored for culturally diverse groups are suggested—for example, recruiting prominent religious leaders to promote physical activity in religious populations.
Michel Cauderay, Françoise Narring and Pierre-André Michaud
Biometric status, cardiovascular endurance, strength, speed, flexibility, and coordination were assessed in a cross-sectional survey involving 3,540 Swiss boys and girls, aged 9 to 19. Strength and endurance were better among boys, whereas girls displayed better flexibility. Most of the performances among girls did not change from 14 years onwards, while boys exhibited better performances after 15–16 years. The coefficients of correlation between the tests varied from as low as .16 (NS) to .63 (p < .01). Multiple regression analyses showed that height, weight, and chronological and biological age altogether were independently related to the performance on most of the tests. Fitness is a multidimensional concept that not only evolves with chronological age but also depends on biometrical characteristics such as pubertal stage, height, and weight.
Adam D. G. Baxter-Jones, Joey C. Eisenmann and Lauren B. Sherar
The process of maturation is continuous throughout childhood and adolescence. In a biological context, the effects of a child’s maturation might mask or be greater than the effects associated with exposure to exercise. Pediatric exercise scientists must therefore include an assessment of biological age in study designs so that the confounding effects of maturation can be controlled for. In order to understand how maturation can be assessed, it is important to appreciate that 1 year of chronological time is not equivalent to 1 year of biological time. Sex- and age-associated variations in the timing and tempo of biological maturation have long been recognized. This paper reviews some of the possible biological maturity indicators that the pediatric exercise scientist can use. As a result, we recommend that any of the methods discussed could be used for gender-specific comparisons. Gender-comparison studies should either use skeletal age or some form of somatic index.
Eric E. Wickel, Joey C. Eisenmann and Gregory J. Welk
This study compared physical activity levels among early, average, and late maturing boys and girls.
Physical activity was assessed with an Actigraph accelerometer in 161 (76 boys, 85 girls) 9 to 14 year olds over 7 consecutive days. Anthropometric variables were measured and the maturity offset (ie, years from peak height velocity) was predicted. Biological maturity groups (early, average, and late) were created based on the mean estimated age at peak height velocity for boys and girls separately.
Levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) were similar between early, average, and late maturing boys and girls after adjusting for differences in chronological age. Levels of MVPA progressively declined across chronological age in boys and girls (P < .001) and gender differences existed at 10-, 12-, and 13-years, with boys having higher levels than girls (P < .05). When aligned according to biological age, gender-related differences in MVPA did not exist.
Within this sample of 9 to 14 year old boys and girls, there were no significant differences in MVPA among early, average, and late maturing individuals.
Brent A. Baker
Even though chronological aging is an inevitable phenomenological consequence occurring in every living organism, it is biological aging that may be the most significant factor challenging our quality of life. Development of functional limitations, resulting from improper maintenance and restoration of various organ systems, ultimately leads to reduced health and independence. Skeletal muscle is an organ system that, when challenged, is often injured in response to varying stimuli. Overt muscle-strain injury can be traumatic, clinically diagnosable, properly managed, and a remarkably common event, yet our contemporary understanding of how age and environmental stressors affect the initial and subsequent induction of injury and how the biological processes resulting from this event are modifiable and, eventually, lead to functional restoration and healing of skeletal muscle and adjacent tissues is presently unclear. Even though the secondary injury response to and recovery from "contraction-induced" skeletal-muscle injury are impaired with aging, there is no scientific consensus as to the exact mechanism responsible for this event. Given the multitude of investigative approaches, particular consideration given to the appropriateness of the muscle-injury model, or research paradigm, is critical so that outcomes may be physiologically relevant and translational. In this case, methods implementing stretch-shortening contractions, the most common form of muscle movements used by all mammals during physical movement, work, and activity, are highlighted.
Understanding the fundamental evidence regarding how aging influences the responsivity of skeletal muscle to strain injury is vital for informing how clinicians approach and implement preventive strategies, as well as therapeutic interventions. From a practical perspective, maintaining or improving the overall health and tissue quality of skeletal muscle as one ages will positively affect skeletal muscle’s safety threshold and responsivity, which may reduce incidence of injury, improve recovery time, and lessen overall fiscal burdens.