Are you prepared to go to the gym for one hour, three times a week, for 20 weeks all in the name of science? If so researchers at The University of Nottingham want to hear from you.

As part of their on-going research into the ageing process, scientists in the School of Biomedical Sciences need a team of volunteers who are prepared to under take a five month programme of resistance training.

Preserving muscle mass as we age is important to maintain health, physical strength, appearance and independence. Experts at the University say people of all ages are capable of increasing muscle mass with an appropriate weight training programme and this appears to be accompanied by other metabolic benefits such as increased nutrient sensitivity and the prevention of Type II Diabetes Mellitus.

This latest study being carried out at the School of Graduate Entry Medicine and Health in Derby aims to examine the effects of a training programme on muscle growth in people of varying ages.

Michael Rennie, Professor of Clinical Physiology said: "As part of a continuous restoration process, muscle tissue is simultaneously broken down and re-synthesised. There is some evidence that the rate of synthesis is decreased in the elderly, possibly due to an impaired response to proteins taken in food and therefore to the amino acids of which the protein is composed. This nutrient resistance may, in part, explain why muscle is gradually lost with ageing."

The modern demographic trend, apparent worldwide, of increased life expectancy and an ageing population means that conditions related to ageing have greater implications for society than ever before and researchers say ways to alleviate negative conditions associated with ageing must be supported.

Resistance training, defined as movements performed against a specific external force, has numerous benefits for all. As people age a depletion of muscle mass and strength begins to occur. It is estimated that by 80 years of age humans generally lose 30 to 40 per cent of skeletal muscle fibres and 40 per cent of voluntary strength, especially in the lower limbs.

It is well established that resistance training interventions can partially reverse losses of strength, muscle mass and may go someway to attenuate strength losses with ageing, the effect is amplified to a greater extent when combined with protein intake.

This study aims to examine if failure to maintain muscle mass as we age is due to a resistance to nutrients and physical activity that would normally increase the processes required for muscle growth and to discover if an exercise training programme can alleviate this resistance.

The study called 'Active Ageing' has been funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. It calls on the help of male and female volunteers in the age ranges of 18-28 and 65-75.

Initially they will attend a screening visit for a scan to measure body composition. Every volunteer will also take part in two acute study days one before and another after the 20 week training programme. During these visits blood samples will be taken and a tagged amino acid will be infused into the blood stream. Muscle biopsies will be taken, under local anaesthesia, from thigh muscle to measure the body's ability to make muscle in response to exercise and feeding. A second body scan will also be carried out at the end of the 20 weeks.

Bethan Phillips, Research Associate in the School of Biomedical Sciences said: "So far all those who have undertaken this study have seen improvements in strength, general health measures and their body composition. On a self-report basis many have found themselves being more active in their day to day living and feeling more energetic. All of the older age group have reported increased physical activity upon completion of this study, even if it not through gym training".

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