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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01050

Comparison of muscle function, bone mineral density and body composition of early starting and later starting older Masters athletes

  • 1Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
  • 2Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom
  • 3University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • 4University of Bristol, United Kingdom

Masters endurance runners can epitomise healthy ageing; being reflective of the physiological processes of ageing without the compounded effects of inactivity. The primary aim of the present study was to determine, using cross-sectional data, whether individuals taking up training after the age of 50 years can achieve the same level of athletic performance and musculoskeletal characteristics in their older age as those who trained all of their adult lives. A total of 150 master endurance runners (age 68 (5) years; 111 male, 39 female) were divided into early starters (training all of their adulthood) and late starters (started training after age 50 years). A comparative non-athletic group of 59 healthy older adults (age 73 (4) years; 30 female, 29 male) were additionally included for analysis. Training intensity; age-graded performance and musculoskeletal assessments were performed. Results showed that there was no difference between athlete groups for training intensity or age-graded performance, despite the 30-year difference in training history. Body fat% and leg lean mass did not differ between athlete groups, but were 17% lower and 12% greater, respectively, in athlete groups compared with controls. Power normalised to body mass did not differ between any groups. Spine BMD was lower in late starters than controls, while early starters did not differ from late starters or controls. Hip BMD did not differ between any of the groups. These findings show that the Masters athletes we studied that started intense endurance running after the age of 50 years had lower body fat and higher leg lean mass compared to non-athletes. Body composition and athletic performance of the late starters was very similar to those who trained all of their adult lives.

Keywords: masters athletes, Body Composition, Bone Mineral Density (BMD), Starting age, endurance running

Received: 17 Dec 2018; Accepted: 30 Jul 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Piasecki, Ireland, Piasecki, Deere, Hannam, Tobias and McPhee. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Jessica Piasecki, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, United Kingdom, jessica.piasecki@ntu.ac.uk