chapter  3
11 Pages


ByHirofumi Tanaka

The age profile in the United States is shifting very rapidly as the first baby boomers move toward an older age structure crossing the retirement age threshold. It is estimated that by year 2030, one in every five Americans will be 65 years and older. Aging is associated with declines in functional capacity and increased risks of developing chronic diseases. However, being old is not the inevitable state of functional disability and illness. In fact, functional and health-related changes that we often associate with aging are in large part due to physical inactivity (Skinner et al., 1982). Short-term inactivity through bed rest and weightlessness produces substantial loss of muscle mass and strength (Kortebein et al., 2007; Volpi et al., 2004), whereas progressive strength training induces muscle hypertrophy and increases muscle strength and power (Anton et al., 2006; Miyachi et al., 2004). In this context, Masters Athletes are an effective experimental model of ‘primary aging’ and have challenged the negative stereotype of aging (Tanaka & Higuchi, 1998; Tanaka & Seals, 2003; see also Horton, Chapter 8). In essence, Masters Athletes represent the other extreme end of an aging distribution, a complete opposite to the frail elderly. This review will focus on the age-associated changes in muscle strength and power in Masters Athletes.