The effect of ageing and exercise on skeletal muscle function

R. H. Fitts, J. P. Troup, F. A. Witzmann, J. O. Holloszy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The contractile and selected biochemical properties of fast- and slow-twitch skeletal muscle were studied at 9, 18, and 28 months of age in sedentary and regulatory exercised rats. The isometric twich duration was prolonged with aging in both the fast- and slow-twitch muscle. This effect was primarily due to prolonged one-half relaxation time ( 1 2RT), which developed late in life. Regular exercise tended to further prolong the twitch duration, particularly in the slow-twitch soleus. Surprisingly, twitch and tetanic tension (Po), peak rate of tension development and decline, and the maximal shortening velocity were all unaltered between 9 and 28 months of age. Furthermore, regular exercise (running or swimming) had little or no effect on these properties. The prolonged 1 2RT with aging could not be explained by a decreased rate of Ca2+ sequestration by the sacroplasmic reticulum, as the rate of Ca2+ uptake measured in muscle homogenates was unaltered in any of the muscles studied between 9 and 28 months. The degree of muscle fatigue (decline in Po) with 30 min of contractile activity in the slow-twitch soleus was not affected by aging. However, lactate reached two-fold higher levels and glycogen fell to considerably lower levels in the muscles of the old rats. This suggests an increased glycolysis and glycogen utilization during contractile activity in aged rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-172
Number of pages12
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 15 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Contractile and biochemical properties
  • Exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology

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