Sunday, October 19, 2008

Asthma Drugs Found to Increase Muscle Strength

According to research from the University of Melbourne, it may be possible to improve muscle strength, preventing weakness and disabilities associated with aging. Preliminary research shows that commonly used asthma drugs, beta-agonists, reverse muscle wasting and weakness in rat studies. Dr James Ryall of the University’s Department of Physiology has published his findings in the scientific journal, Physiological Review.

We have much to learn about the changes that occur when we age. The current research may lead to a better understanding of the complex mechanisms associated with muscle loss. According to Dr. Ryall,”While the exact cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying sarcopenia have yet to be identified, they are likely to be highly complex and involve multiple different signalling pathways, presenting numerous targets for novel drug discovery.” Sarcopenia is the term to define muscle wasting and weakness.

None of us expect to find a magic pill that will prevent aging, but targeted research such as this just may surprise us all. Dr. Gordon Lynch who supervised the study, believes the findings are a significant contribution to to tapping into successful aging, pointing out that “Muscle wasting can deprive a person of functional independence and increase their risk of falls and fractures. It is one of ageing’s most serious consequences.”

The research is in no way a message to use beta-agonists for other than their intended purpose, as they can be dangerous to cardovascular health - the message is that researchers are one-step closer to understanding ways to help our aging population enjoy quality of life and maintain independence.

Dr. Ryall, as the result of his research, has been awarded the University of Melbourne’s 2007 Chancellor’s Prize for research. He will continue his doctoral studies at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Until we find that magic pill, it’s important to remember that resistance training, whole foods to include five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, regular exercise, and fighting obesity are currently the best ways known to maintain quality of life, prevent injuries, and keep a sharp mind.

Muscle strength is important as we age, so don’t forget to focus on building muscle earlier rather than later. Studies show developing muscle in our 50’s will greatly add quality of life to our senior years.


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