Researchers say hot baths and warm blankets may help prevent muscle wastage as we age.
Victoria University exercise physiology expert Dr Aaron Petersen said heat blanket therapy had already been shown to increase muscle gains in men undergoing strength training.
"Typically, heat therapy involves heating the muscles for up to 60 minutes before, during or after each workout and should be done two to three times per week," Dr Petersen said. "It is believed to work by stimulating the production of naturally occurring protective enzymes in the muscle called heat shock proteins."
Dr Petersen is now investigating the effectiveness of heat treatment combined with resistance exercise for enhancing muscle mass or halting muscle wasting in the elderly. He said age-related muscle wasting (sarcopenia) affected nearly one in four adults over 65 years and is the largest determinant of falls and immobility in the elderly.
"Therapies to arrest or reverse sarcopenia are vital to improve the health, independence, quality of life and longevity of the elderly," he said.
Dr Petersen and his team are now seeking participants for a research project. The study will involve a single weight lifting workout with a hot bath before and after. Blood samples and muscle biopsy samples will also be taken before and after the workout. Participants must be 65 to 80 years old and capable of doing moderate weight lifting exercises with their legs.
To participate contact Dr Petersen on (03) 9919 9452 or [email protected]
Available for interview:
Dr Aaron Petersen, researcher
Institute for Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University
(03) 9919 9452; [email protected]
Michael Quin, Research writer
Public Affairs Department, Victoria University
(03) 9919 9491; 0431 815 409; [email protected]