Research study will pay you to exercise
As we age, we lose as much as 5% of muscle mass every decade. If we don’t exercise, we become even weaker.
“If you’re unable to be as active and do as much physical activity, then you’re setting yourself up for a worsening of the problem,” said Steven Prior, associate professor in the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Department of Kinesiology.
But it’s never too late to get in shape.
This fall, after a long delay due to the pandemic, Prior and a team of researchers are looking for older adults to participate in a study of the aging-related loss of muscle, known as sarcopenia.
The re-launched study seeks to determine the best exercises to increase muscle mass and strength in older adults.
Previous studies showed that strength training (such as lifting weights, doing push-ups, etc.) can reverse sarcopenia. But what about aerobic exercises like walking or swimming? Can that build muscle mass, too?
Strength and aerobics included
Prior and his team are “looking at people with relatively low muscle mass and finding out how to best improve the strength and function of their muscles,” he explained. “We’re trying to figure out better exercise programs to improve strength and function in older people.”
The study is open to people ages 65 to 88. (Diabetics and smokers aren’t eligible for the study.)
Three times a week for six months, participants will visit either the University’s College Park or Baltimore campus for exercise classes.
They will be randomly sorted into two groups: one will do three months of resistance training (such as weightlifting) first, followed by three months of aerobic exercise; and the other group will start with aerobic exercise and then do resistance training.
Everyone will work with an exercise physiologist three times a week in the university’s exercise facility. The exercises are safe and can be adjusted to anyone’s ability, according to Prior, the study’s primary investigator.
“Everything is monitored by exercise physiologists who are well trained in prescribing exercises for older individuals. All exercise interventions are tailored specifically to the person’s ability,” Prior said.
Builds on previous study
Prior has studied sarcopenia for years. His 2016 study found that muscles with dense, oxygen-rich capillaries receive oxygen more quickly and efficiently during exercise.
To track people’s progress in this year’s clinical trial, researchers will measure changes in participants’ strength over six months. They will also take samples of muscle tissue to track the size of their muscle fibers and any changes in the number of capillaries.
Parking is free at both locations, and participants will be paid a total of $300 to exercise three times a week for six months.
For more information or to volunteer, call (410) 605-7179 and reference the “SARCOPENIA” study.