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Muscle mass in elderly boosted by combining resistance exercise and blood flow restriction
Date:5/14/2010

GALVESTON, Texas For years, researchers have known that resistance exercise training such as weightlifting, in which muscles work against gravity or another force can be one of the most effective ways to fight the debilitating muscle loss caused by aging. But many older people are unable to get the full benefits of such training because they suffer from conditions such as arthritis that prevent them from lifting enough weight to stimulate muscle growth. And, while younger men and women continue to produce significant amounts of muscle protein for hours after a resistance exercise workout, seniors receive a much smaller post-workout benefit.

Now, though, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers have determined that moderately and temporarily restricting the flow of blood through muscles a practice adopted by bodybuilders who noticed that it made light weights feel heavier can be combined with low-level resistance exercise training to produce muscle-mass increases in older men.

"We think that this may be a novel treatment for older people who need to bring their muscle mass back up," said UTMB physical therapy professor Blake Rasmussen, senior author of a paper on the investigation ("Blood flow restriction exercise stimulates mTORC1 signaling and muscle protein synthesis in older men") appearing in the May issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology. "It could also be used for patients who have had surgery and aren't capable of lifting enough weight to keep their muscles in shape, or for people who have arthritis or other conditions that make lifting heavy weights a problem."

The UTMB investigators studied changes in the thigh muscles of seven older men (average age 70) when they performed four minutes of low-resistance leg extension exercises both with and without inflatable cuffs that reduced blood flow out of the muscles. Muscle protein synthesis was measured in each of the men by monitoring changes in a
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Contact: Jim Kelly
jpkelly@utmb.edu
409-772-8791
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Source:Eurekalert

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