Physical activity is considered crucial in attenuating losses in strength and power associated with ageing. However, in well-functioning, active older adults the relationship between habitual physical activity and muscle function is surprisingly unclear. Leg press velocity, force, and power, were compared between 50 older and 30 younger healthy individuals, and associations with habitual physical activity explored. An incremental power test was performed on a pneumatic leg press, with theoretical maximum velocity, force, and power calculated. Vastus lateralis muscle thickness was measured by ultrasound, and participants wore a combined accelerometer and heart rate monitor for 6-days of free-living. Older individuals produced lower absolute maximum velocity, force, and power, than younger individuals. When accounting for smaller muscle size, older individual’s maximum force and power remained markedly lower. Both groups were active, however using age specific thresholds for classifying physical activity, the older individuals engaged in twice the amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in comparison to the younger individuals. There were no associations between any characteristics of muscle function and physical activity. These data support that the ability to generate force and power deteriorates with age, however habitual physical activity levels do not explain inter-individual differences in muscle function in active older individuals.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0200089
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2018


  • Accelerometry
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging/physiology
  • Exercise/physiology
  • Female
  • Habits
  • Heart Rate Determination
  • Heart Rate/physiology
  • Humans
  • Leg/anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength/physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal/anatomy & histology
  • Organ Size
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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