Relatively few researchers have looked at how the muscles of masters athletes – individuals who exercise routinely – decline, or don’t, as they get older. To look at this cross-section of society, Wroblewski and his team took muscle and body composition measurements of 40 high-level recreational athletes.
The subjects, 20 men and 20 women, ranged in age from 40 to 81 years and practiced their sport, primarily running, biking and/or swimming, four to five times per week.
The results showed that mid-thigh muscle mass and lean mass did not increase with age. But it didn’t decrease either. And, the older athletes seemed to maintain their muscle mass even though their body fat increased, relative to the younger competitors in the study.
These observations suggest that body fat was accumulating in places other than within the muscles, which is better for maintaining muscle strength. Tests on the subjects’ quads strength also showed that it did not decline with age either.
Source: Wroblewski, A., et. al. Chronic Exercise Preserves Lean Muscle Mass in Masters Athletes. The Physician and Sportsmedicine. Volume: 39, No.3., via Bicycle Lab