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Clin Physiol Funct Imaging., 2004; 24(6): 335-40, PMID: 15522042

Is muscle power output a key factor in the age-related decline in physical performance? A comparison of muscle cross section, chair-rising test and jumping power

Year: 2004

Runge M, Rittweger J, Russo CR, Schiessl H, Felsenberg D
AERPAH Klinik, Esslingen, Germany.


Ageing compromises locomotor capacity and is associated with an increased risk of falls. Several lines of evidence indicate that both changes in muscle mass and performance are causative. Most studies, however, do not discern between effects of ageing, sedentarism and comorbidity. The present study compares the age effects in muscle cross section, force and power in physically competent self-selected subjects of different age groups. A total of 169 women and 89 men between 18 and 88 years, without any disease, impairment or medication affecting the musculoskeletal system were enrolled in this study. Calf muscle cross-sectional area was assessed by computed tomography. Muscle force and power were assessed by jumping mechanography. No significant correlation between muscle cross section and age was found in the men. A weak correlation in the women disappeared after correction for height. Close correlations with age, however, were found for peak force and peak power. Correction for muscle cross section or body weight further increased these correlation coefficients, particularly for peak power specific to body weight (r = 0.81 in women and r = 0.86 in men). The non-sedentarian population investigated here depicted a reduction of >50% between the age of 20 and 80 without a reduction in muscle cross section. This suggests a crucial role for muscular power in the ageing process. Possibly, the jumping mechanography as a measurement of anti-gravitational power output is a promising extension of the chair-rising test, known to be predictive for immobilization and the risk of falls.

GID: 1148; Last update: 28.02.2008
More information: Original Article