Research roundup: Resistance training, apple peel, MK-677 for muscle strength

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Muscle strength
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At one time, researchers suggested there was no way to prevent loss of muscle mass with aging. Now scientists know better. Resistance training, shown in a study review from Dutch researchers, helps older adults preserve muscle. In the meantime, researchers have been studying compounds that could be developed into drugs to prevent muscle wasting for those with chronic illness.

Healthy older adults, between age 50 and up don't have to lose independence and mobility from muscle atrophy. The drug MK-677 has been explored by University of Virginia researchers to help elders maintain muscles. A compound in apple peel has also shown promise for promoting muscle growth.

Resistance training over age 60 improves muscle force, reduces fall risk

In the study, resistance training 3 to 4 times a week at an intensity of 60-85% of the one-repetition-maximum was the minimum needed to reduce the chances aging muscle loss - known as sarcopenia.

The researchers tested participants over age 60, finding tendons and bones adapt to resistance training, preventing falls.

The authors note higher repetition intensity (>85%) is needed to increase rapidly available muscle force.

The study highlights the need for older individuals to engage in resistance exercise; shown in the study to help maintain muscle mass over age 50, and is published in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International.

The authors note one in 3 workers will be over age 50 by 2020 with longer years of employment and only 5 to 15% of elderly people practice resistance training.

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In Germany, 40 percent of the population will be over age 60 by the year 2050. Maintaining independence and ability to remain in the work force will become increasingly important.

Is there a muscle preserving drug?

Scientists are exploring drug development that can prevent sarcopenia that happens not just from aging, but from prolonged illness, but none are ready for market.

University of Virginia researchers found in a 2008 published investigation that MK-677, a drug that acts to increase growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF- I), restored 20 percent of muscle mass in older individuals.

An ingredient in apple peel, known as ursolic acid, is recently found to increase muscle mass and strength in mouse studies. Ursolic acid also boosts levels of IGF-1.

The authors of the current study concluded: “Progressive strength training in the elderly is efficient, even with higher intensities, to reduce sarcopenia, and to retain motor function.” Resistance training also boosts growth hormone.

The research review finds resistance training is an anti-aging, non-pharmaceutical remedy that preserves muscle strength for healthy older adults.

Combining resistance training with an apple a day, added to a nutritious diet might be good advice to keep muscles strong for healthy older adults. Drugs are also being explored to prevent muscle atrophy for patients dealing with prolonged illness and chronic health conditions.

Deutsches Ärzteblatt International: DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2011.0359
“The Intensity and Effects of Strength Training in the Elderly
Mayer, F; Scharhag-Rosenberger, F; Carlsohn, A; Cassel, M; Müller, S; Scharhag, J

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Comments

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