A substantial loss of muscle mass and strength (sarcopenia), a decreased regenerative capacity, and a compromised physical performance are hallmarks of aging skeletal muscle. These changes are typically accompanied by impaired muscle metabolism, including mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin resistance. A challenge in the field of muscle aging is to dissociate the effects of chronological aging per se on muscle characteristics from the secondary influence of lifestyle and disease processes. Remarkably, physical activity and exercise are well-established countermeasures against muscle aging, and have been shown to attenuate age-related decreases in muscle mass, strength, and regenerative capacity, and slow or prevent impairments in muscle metabolism. We posit that exercise and physical activity can influence many of the changes in muscle during aging, and thus should be emphasized as part of a lifestyle essential to healthy aging.
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