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Nervous system’s role in age-related weakness

A study found new evidence to support the belief that the nervous system plays a major role in age-related weakness.

Scientists compared how much muscle strength older people could muster voluntarily, with when their muscles were stimulated electrically. 

The results suggest that physical weakness in ageing may be due, at least in part, to impairments in brain and nerve function, rather than changes in the muscles themselves.

One of the authors behind the paper, Brian Clark, said it is “confirmatory evidence that the nervous system is a key culprit in weakness”.

Subjects were asked to push against resistance with as much strength as possible. When they reached their self-perceived limit, the muscles were stimulated electrically. If this caused more force, it indicated strength limitation did not come from the muscle itself.

 

Image credit | iStock

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