Comparison of Age-Specific Leg Extensor Muscle Function Torque-Time and Rapid Velocity Attributes Across the Adult Lifespan: A Relative Deficiency Investigation

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Experimental Gerontology




Elsevier Inc.

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The purposes of this study were to examine the age-related differences in absolute and normalized torque-time parameters in five distinct groups across the adult lifespan, and the relationship between rapid strength and limb acceleration capacities across the lifespan. One-hundred and thirty-six healthy men were categorized as young athletes (n = 27; age = 20.7 yrs), young controls (n = 32; 21.9 yrs), middle young (n = 32; 49.8 yrs), middle old (n = 15; 58.9 yrs), and old (n = 30; 71.3 yrs) cohorts. Participants performed maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs) of the leg extensors under isometric and isokinetic (240 deg.·s−1) conditions. Outcome measures included peak torque (PT), absolute and MVC normalized (norm) rate of torque development (RTD) at 50 and 200 ms, RTD50/PT ratio, and rate of velocity development (RVD). The PT and absolute RTD at 200 ms declined from young to old age (P < .05). The middle age groups exhibited an overall preservation of early RTD, and a potential enhancement of early normalized RTD (P = .06 for middle young vs. controls, for RTDnorm50). The RTD50/PT ratio was higher in the middle young (P < .05) compared to both the young groups. Generally, the RVD declined more linearly and exhibited worse preservation at mid-life than the early absolute or normalized RTD variables. All absolute torque-time variables were correlated (r = 0.43–0.73, P < .001) to the RVD for all groups combined. These findings showed distinct age-related declines occurred for different muscle function parameters unique to specific stages of the lifespan. Normalized RTD variables may reveal plausible mechanisms of age-related neuromuscular changes and the RTD50/PT ratio may be a useful tool for determining relative deficiencies, such that mid-life adults (45–64 yrs) should address their relative limitation of PT by enhancing strength at mid-life, whereas older adults (65+ yrs) may need more emphasis on RTD improvements. In addition, both mid-life and older men should seek to improve rapid limb velocity capacities due to the susceptibility of RVD to decline more incrementally across the lifespan. Such information may help to improve anti-aging strategies by countering age-specific muscle function deficiencies and may improve mid-life adults' ability to transition better functionally into old age.

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