The decline in physical strength of older people is associated with a reduced muscle mass, which is due to a loss of muscle fibers and to a decrease in the size of fast-twitch muscle fibers. Aging is also associated with a reduced density of blood capillaries surrounding the muscle fibers, leading to a decrease in oxidative capacity. Resistance training can cause the surviving muscle fibers to hypertrophy and become stronger, partially compensating for the decline in the number of muscle fibers in elderly people. Endurance training can increase the density of blood capillaries in the muscles, improving the ability of the blood to deliver oxygen to the muscles. The muscle glycogen of older people can also be increased by endurance training, but it cannot be raised to the levels present in youth.
Test Yourself Before You Continue
2. Describe the characteristics of slow- and fast-twitch fibers (including intermediate fibers). Explain how the fiber types are determined and list the functions of different fiber types.
3. Explain the different causes of muscle fatigue with reference to the various fiber types.
4. Describe the effects of endurance training and resistance training on the fiber characteristics of muscles.
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