Old age hurts body's ability to slow muscle loss

Share this content:

The elderly experience a sort of "double-whammy" when it comes to muscle loss. Not only is it harder to build muscle, but the suppression of muscle loss is blunted in old age, according to newly published research.

Previous studies have found that the elderly have a difficult time building muscle through ingested protein, according to the researchers at the University of Nottingham. The new study focused on the body's ability to prevent muscle loss, which scientists say is also linked to eating. Researchers compared a group of healthy 25-year-olds to a group of seniors in their late 60s, giving each group a controlled amount of insulin after an initial evaluation upon waking. The study confirmed that the elderly bodies could not effectively utilize the insulin to slow the muscle loss.

Researchers also noticed that the older group had worse blood flow than the younger group. After putting seniors on a weight-training course for 20 weeks, researchers were able to improve blood flow, also reducing the insulin-blunting effect of old age. Report authors suggest it could be possible to reduce the rate of age-related muscle loss with such weight-training exercises and other blood-flow improvement techniques. The report appears in the Sept. 9 edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.