Rechnitzer Lecture


Aging Muscle Fibers and Exercise

FronteraWalter R. Frontera, MD, PhD

Dean, Faculty of Medicine
Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Physiology
University of Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Monday, May 4, 2009

Walter R. Frontera, MD, PhD has been the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and Physiology at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) since 2006.  Previously (1993-1995), he was Chief of the Department of PM&R at UPR. After a sabbatical year (1995) in the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, he was recruited to Harvard Medical School to establish a Department of PM&R and was appointed the Earle P. and Ida S. Charlton Professor and Chair of the Department of PM&R at Harvard Medical School and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.  He was also the Chief of Service at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.   

Lecture Abstract:

Aging Muscle Fibers and Exercise

The aging of the population is one of the most dramatic socio-demographic changes of the last few decades.  Life expectancy has increased but age-associated physiological losses may result in a significant decline in functional capacity and quality of life in the elderly.  The loss of muscle strength and mass, both at the whole muscle and single fiber levels, contribute to this decline.  Changes in myosin may impact specific force of single muscle fibers and hypertrophy of surviving muscle fibers is an attempt to compensate for sarcopenic alterations. Regular physical activity and strength training have been shown to limit the deleterious effect of aging on skeletal muscle; although not all age groups respond to the same degree.  The extent of the response to training may be determined by the genotype and enhanced with protein-based dietary interventions.  Successful aging without disability depends on a multiplicity of factors including regular exercise. 

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