A new study from a team of Canadian researchers examines whether elite athletes’ muscles weaken with aging as non-athletes’ muscles do.

The researchers suggest that older elite athletes’ constant physical training preserved their muscle fibers such that the fibers behaved like those of young adults, according to a media release from the American Physiological Society.

In their study, the researchers took muscle fiber samples from the quadriceps of older elite runners and non-athlete adults in the same age range. They then compared the fibers’ contraction speed and force to fibers from 23-year-old non-athlete adults.

Muscle fibers from older non-athletes contracted considerably slower and weaker than fibers from young non-athletes. To the researchers’ surprise, the muscle fibers of the elite athletes contracted at a speed and force similar to those of older non-athlete adults, not the young adults, the release explains.

Lead author Geoff Power from the University of Guelph in Canada notes in the release that success in high-performance sports in old age does not appear to be due to the fibers’ maintained contraction capability.

Power states also in the release that the study suggests that aging may be associated with decreased muscle quality regardless of physical activity status.

The study was published recently in American Journal of Physiology – Cell Physiology.

[Source(s): American Physiological Society, Science Daily]