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Volunteers needed for research study at University of Essex

Modulation of muscle force control with ageing and physical (in)activity.

Research is being run by Dr Jamie Pethick of the School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences at the University of Essex. Looking for volunteers to take part in an exciting new study investigating the effects of lifelong physical (in)activity.

In comparison to young adults, older adults exhibit a poorer ability to control muscle force, i.e. to perform smooth and steady contractions. This age-related decrease in the ability to control force is associated with poorer performance in tests of balance, mobility and even driving! Moreover, it has been suggested to be more closely related to declines in the ability to perform these tests than the age-related decrease in maximal force generating capacity.

Research on the age-related decrease in force control and its functional consequences has, however, only been conducted in more sedentary (i.e. inactive) individuals. Physical inactivity is the most important factor accelerating age-related declines in physiological function, while physical activity is the most important factor in slowing such decline. Indeed, lifelong physical active older adults have been demonstrated to have better preservation of muscle strength than age-matched inactive adults.

No study to date has, however, investigated whether lifelong physical (in)activity effects the age-related decrease in force control. Consequently, the purpose of this study is to address this significant knowledge gap.

I am looking for participants who fit into one of the following three groups to take part in the study:

  1. Young adults aged between 18 and 35
  2. Inactive older adults aged over 50, who do not take part in any sport or do any kind of athletic training (I particularly need participants from this group)
  3. Lifelong physically active adults (often called Masters athletes) aged over 50, who train for a specific sport 3-6 hours per week

Involvement in the study will require two visits of the laboratory at the School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences at the University of Essex’s Wivenhoe Part campus. During the first visit, your ability to generate and control force in various muscles of the legs will be tested. During the second visit, measures of your ability to perform static and dynamic balance tests will be taken.

Volunteering to take part in this study will help to further our knowledge and understanding of the effects physical (in)activity across the lifetime has on our physiology and ability to function.

If you are interested in participating or would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact me (Dr Jamie Pethick, [email protected]). Thank you for reading.

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