Caffeine boosts power in older muscles, and act as a stimulant to aid elderly people maintain their strength, reducing the incidence of falls and injuries, a new study has suggested.
As bodies age, muscles become weaker — a phenomenon that is known as ‘Sarcopenia’ — raising the risk of falls and injuries.
Caffeine has been shown to help muscles work harder, which in turn helps to maintain and even strengthen muscles. Perhaps caffeine, then, could make ailing older muscles exert more force and thus help keep the muscles stronger longer.
Sports scientists took two different types of mouse muscle — a leg muscle called extensor digitorum longus, as well as diaphragm muscle — and tested how they performed when dosed with 70 micromolars of caffeine – equivalent to “a couple of espressos,” said first author Jason Tallis, a muscle physiologist at Coventry University in England.
They conducted their tests on mice at ages 3 weeks, 10 weeks, 30 weeks and 50 weeks.
The 10-week and 30-week-old muscles — roughly analogous to young adulthood and middle age — benefited the most as they improved up to 5 percent for the leg muscle and 6 percent for the diaphragm.
The very old mice saw less benefit, with a boost of up to 3 percent and 2 percent respectively, and the very young mice saw a limited 1 percent and 2 percent improvement, the LA Times reported.
Caffeine is no miracle worker to pump up those aging guns — in fact, it’s relatively less effective for elderly rodents than it is for the healthy adult animals and of course, the study tested mice and not human tissue.
This effect would probably be of little use to an older person who has limited movement. Such purposeful caffeine intake would likely be most effective when coupled with rehabilitation programs, or at least with a dedicated exercise regimen.
But, author Tallis of the study, a muscle physiologist at Coventry University in England, pointed out that the study only looked at caffeine’s isolated effects on muscle.
Since caffeine cues up the nervous system, which can tell muscles what to do, that effect could be amplified in a live animal (or human).
“Hopefully this will encourage people to do those human studies,” Tallis added.
The study is also interesting in light of recent evidence that link coffee — that complex cocktail of chemicals, including caffeine — to a reduced risk of death in older adults over the course of study.