Higher training frequency can increase muscle growth
Although daily exercise is undoubtedly the best weapon against muscle atrophy and aging, elderly are unable to perform training at the intensity of younger athletes. Their bodies are more prone to injuries and the ability to recovery is lessened.
As a result elder friendly programs focus on the aspects of warming up muscles, preventing injuries, and keeping the rest days at a high. New studies have evidence that the last aspect may be counter-productive.
In the study the researchers got elderly lab rats [aged between 14 and 16 months] to run in a treadmill over a period of eight weeks.
The researchers gradually increased the length and intensity of the running schedule, so that by the last weeks of the experiment the animals were running 28 m/minute for 60 minutes. Half of the rats ran three times a week; the other half ran five times.
A control group of rats of a similar age didn’t run at all [SED]. A second control group consisted of non-active rats aged four months [YC].
At the end result, the rats that ran five times per week had built more muscle mass than the rats that trained three times a week. In the muscles of the active rats, the anabolic key molecule mTOR had become more active. But only in the rats that had run five times a week was the molecule as active as in the young animals.
MTOR- which stands for mammalian target of rapamycin – is a protein that regulates cell growth, cell proliferation, cell motility, cell survival, protein synthesis.
As we age, mTOR becomes less active and older muscle cells lose sensitivity to insulin. This is the cause of increased chances of developing type two diabetes, along with loosing muscle mass and strength.
Exp Gerontol. 2011 Oct 12. [Epub ahead of print].