A few weeks ago we tackled the importance of lean muscle mass in aging and its typical correlation with organ reserve. Conventional wisdom tells us that muscle is easiest to develop when you are young, that we tend to lose muscle as we age, and that it becomes more difficult to put on muscle as we grow older. We thought we’d investigate and give you a clearer picture of what the research has to say.
Just to review, we’re talking skeletal muscle here, which includes two types of fibers. Type I fibers are associated with endurance training, while type II fibers are associated with weight training. It’s true that adults do tend to lose muscle mass during typical aging (typical being the operative word here), and it’s the type II fibers that are depleted. Type I fibers are generally preserved. But the type II fibers, research is finding, play a crucial role in regulating the body’s metabolism. These guys help direct the activities of tissues in other systems of the body. Given their influential roles, maintaining type II fibers (i.e. muscle mass) as we age can reduce the risk for diabetes and obesity.