A new study has shown that caffeine boosts power in older muscles, suggesting that caffeine could help older people maintain their strength, reducing the incidence of falls and injuries.
For adults in their prime, caffeine helps muscles to produce more force. But as we age, our muscles naturally change and become weaker.
Scientists at Coventry University, UK looked at whether these age-related changes in muscle would alter the effect of caffeine.
In tests on mice, they found that caffeine continued to enhance muscle performance, although caffeine was less effective in older muscles.
“Despite a reduced effect in the elderly, caffeine may still provide performance-enhancing benefits.” Explained Jason Tallis, the study’s lead author.
The decline in muscle strength that occurs as we age contributes to injuries and reduces quality of life. The process is not well understood, but it is clear that preserving muscle tone is key.
Tallis said: “With the importance of maintaining a physically active lifestyle to preserve health and functional capacity, the performance-enhancing benefit of caffeine could prove beneficial in the aging population.”
Presented at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting in Salzburg, Austria in June, 2012. “Does the ergogenic benefit of caffeine change with age? The effect of physiological concentrations of caffeine on the power output of maximally stimulated mouse EDL and diaphragm muscle” Jason Tallis, Rob S. James, Val M. Cox and Michael J. Duncan, Coventry University, UK