Over 65s wanted for new ‘healthy ageing’ study

Scientists at the University want local volunteers to come forward to take part in a new study about the effects of reducing activity on markers of health.

The researchers are investigating the effects of reducing activity for two-weeks on muscle function and size, plus other markers of health, and are looking to recruit non-obese, non-smoking, healthy men aged 65 – 80.

During the ageing process, muscles get smaller and weaker which may lead to frailty. Whilst it is understood that physical activity is crucial in slowing down this process, the researchers now want to know more about what happens when we become less active.

Targeting exercise to regain muscle size and strength

It is thought that periods of reduced activity, even as short as two weeks, may contribute to muscles becoming smaller and weaker, therefore they want to explore how specific exercise strategies could prevent this and help regain lost muscle size and strength.

They are particularly interested in learning more about muscle function, including power, movement control and balance, but also think that changes inside muscle tissue itself may help us explain why muscle size and strength might reduce when we become less active for short period of time.

Oly Perkin, a PhD student from the Department for Health who is carrying out the study says: "Muscle health is important for healthy ageing, so how something as common as becoming less active for a few weeks may affect our muscle size and function needs to be better understood."

Study supervisor, Professor Keith Stokes added: "Keeping active isn’t always possible with the daily challenges faced as we get older, but we want to identify ways to prevent this from impacting health."

This study will start in late spring, and continue until 2017. It will explore how exercise may be able to protect our muscle quality in different scenarios that might be faced in real life. This will include periods of one-to-one supervised exercise training, and limiting daily physical activity for two weeks.

All participants will be offered a three month membership to the Sports Training Village gym and swimming pool, with full gym induction, personalised training programme and access to exercise classes.

The researchers will measure physical activity, diet, leg muscle function, as well as muscle size and shape, and whole body composition with scanning techniques. Small samples of blood, and muscle and fat tissue will be taken to understand the chemistry behind changes in muscle size and strength.

Find out more and get involved

To register interest in receiving more information about how you might able to be involved with this research in the future, please contact Oly Perkin via O.J.Perkin@bath.ac.uk or 01225 384356.

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