Aging of human muscle: structure, function and adaptability

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 1995 Jun;5(3):129-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.1995.tb00026.x.


With increasing age, human skeletal muscles gradually decrease in volume, mainly due to a reduced number of motor units and muscle fibers, and a reduced size of type 2 fibers. As a result, progressive weakening and impaired mobility occur. High-resistance strength training is beneficial, even in the very old, and could possibly reverse some of the detrimental effects of age-related weakness. The importance of exercise for older people affords an excellent opportunity for the medicine community as a major source of information and promotion of physical activity for this rapidly growing segment of the population. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of the effects of aging on the human neuromuscular system, describe some of the major underlying mechanisms of the aging atrophy and focus on the importance of strength training to improve muscle function in older people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*