Ageing is associated with a progressive decline in skeletal muscle function, eventually leading to a compromised ability to perform tasks of everyday living in elderly populations. The implementation of chronic habitual physical activity is recommended for its beneficial therapeutic effects in order to attenuate many of the age-related decrements in skeletal function that manifest in sedentary ageing populations.
However, whilst exercise is known to promote a plethora of beneficial effects in ageing populations, it also appears that ageing is associated with compromised adaptive responses to acute and chronic exercise stressors compared to young adult populations. At a molecular level, there appear to be many factors that help explain the age-associated blunted responses to both acute and chronic exercise. Prior to discussing the implementation and benefits of physical activity on skeletal muscle structure and function in relation to ageing, a brief overview of how ageing affects the adaptive responses to exercise will be reviewed. It is known that acute exercise disrupts cellular homeostatis and increases the generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, both of which are associated with redox signaling and oxidative stress.
Redox signaling is responsible for inducing chronic adaptations to exercise training, whilst also providing protection against exercise induced oxidative stress, particularly cellular damage to DNA and mitochondria