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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2003 Nov;58(11):1009-11.

Exercise and the master athlete--a model of successful aging?

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Department of Kinesiology and Nutritional Science, California State University, Los Angeles 90032, USA.


Exercise as a therapeutic or prophylactic measure is a topic of particular interest in sarcopenia research. Clearly, exercise can be effectively utilized in the treatment of sarcopenia to recover muscle mass and muscle function in older adults. However, perhaps a more important question is the role of exercise in the prevention of age-related decrements in physiological capacities and function. The master athlete has been proposed as an ideal model to determine successful aging due to his or her chronic participation in high-intensity exercise. While extensive research has been conducted describing the age-related decrements in maximal aerobic capacity, the influence of chronic exercise on muscle mass and muscle function has not been as extensively studied. This article reviews the existing evidence concerning the influence of chronic exercise on body composition and skeletal muscle mass, and proposes areas that remain unstudied.

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