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Causes of muscle ageing to be pinpointed by Abertay scientists

18 December 2014

Sports scientists at Abertay University believe they have worked out what it is that causes our muscles to weaken as we age, and have secured funding from The Carnegie Trust to test their hypothesis.

Although it is well-established that keeping active throughout life can reduce muscle damage, it is not yet known exactly why this is or what causes the damage in the first place.

This is an important area of investigation because poor muscle function is associated with increased disease risk, hospitalisation and institutionalisation in the elderly.

With more than 10 million people in the UK currently over the age of 65 - and this figure set to double in the next 30 years - getting a greater understanding of the ageing process will make it possible to develop therapeutic strategies for muscle ageing.

These strategies include exercise such as high-intensity training (HIT) – an area of ageing research in which Abertay already specialises.

This new research will complement the HIT research and, together, these two areas of investigation will not only help prevent a potentially huge strain on the health care system, but also make it possible for people to live fuller, longer, healthier lives.

Dr James Cobley, who will be leading the research, explains:

"Everyone knows that, as we get older, it becomes more difficult to perform everyday tasks, like walking home from the shops or simply getting up out of a chair.

"This is because our muscles get smaller and weaker as we age.

“We already know a little bit about why this is - there are connections between our muscles and nerves that constantly break and reconnect as our lives progress, and we think it is these cycles of breakage and reconnection that eventually lead to the muscle damage.

“What we don’t yet know is how this damage is done, and this funding will make it possible for us to carry out a series of novel experiments to find out.”


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972172158 E:

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