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    Quadriceps muscle electromyography activity during physical activities and resistance exercise modes in younger and older adults

    Marshall, RN, Morgan, P ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7254-4507, Martinez-Valdes, E and Breen, L (2020) Quadriceps muscle electromyography activity during physical activities and resistance exercise modes in younger and older adults. Experimental Gerontology, 136. 110965. ISSN 0531-5565

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    Background: Understanding the root cause of the age-related impairment in muscle adaptive remodelling with resistance exercise training (RET) and developing pragmatic and accessible resistance exercise for older adults, are essential research directives. Methods: We sought to determine whether indices of quadriceps muscle EMG activity in response to different modes of RET and activities of daily living (ADL), differed between 15 healthy younger (25 ± 3 years) and 15 older (70 ± 5 years) adults. On four separate days, participants completed a maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) of the knee extensors, followed by a 15 m walking task, stair climbing task (i.e. ADL) and lower-limb RET through body-weight squats (BW-RET) and seated knee extensions on a machine (MN-RET) or via elastic bands (EB-RET). Surface quadriceps electromyography (EMG) was measured throughout all tasks to provide indirect estimates of changes in muscle activity. Results: MVC was significantly greater in young vs. older adults (Young: 256 ± 72 vs. Old: 137 ± 48 N·m, P < 0.001). EMG activity during all exercise tasks was significantly higher in older vs. younger adults when expressed relative to maximal EMG achieved during MVC (P < 0.01, for all). In addition, relative quadriceps muscle EMG activity was significantly greater in EB-RET (Young: 20.3 ± 8.7 vs. Old: 37.0 ± 10.7%) and MN-RET (Young: 22.9 ± 10.3, vs. Old: 37.8 ± 10.8%) compared with BW-RET (Young: 8.6 ± 2.9 vs. Old: 27.0 ± 9.3%), in young and older adults (P < 0.001). However, there was no significant difference in quadriceps EMG between EB-RET and MN-RET (P > 0.05). Conclusions: In conclusion, relative quadriceps muscle EMG activity was higher across a range of activities/exercise modes in older vs. younger adults. The similar quadriceps muscle EMG activity between EB-RET and MN-RET provides a platform for detailed investigation of the neuromuscular and muscle metabolic responses to such pragmatic forms of RET to strengthen the evidence-base for this mode of RET as a potential countermeasure to sarcopenia.

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