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Winding Down

More energy required to do the same work as muscles age

25 July 2021

Winding Down

Not only do we change on the outside as we get older, such as grey hairs and wrinkles, there are changes on the inside that affect physical fitness and walking speed. However, these changes don’t progress at the same pace for everyone, and it’s not entirely clear what underlying biological changes are responsible for the decline. Studying ageing in humans obviously takes a very long time, so researchers have been using mice as a shortcut. By comparing the molecular makeup and metabolism of leg muscles from animals at different ages – 7 months (left) 13 months (centre) and 21 months (right) – they've shown that it takes more energy to do the same amount of physical activity in older mice compared with younger ones. No-one can live forever, but knowing more about what happens as we get age could lead to new ways to keep us healthy and active for longer.

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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