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Older Compared With Younger Adults Performed 467 Fewer Sit-to-Stand Trials, Accompanied by Small Changes in Muscle Activation and Voluntary Force

  • Santos, Paulo Cezar Rocha dos1, 2
  • Lamoth, Claudine J. C.1
  • Gobbi, Lilian Teresa Bucken2
  • Zijdewind, Inge3
  • Barbieri, Fabio Augusto4
  • Hortobágyi, Tibor1, 5, 6
  • 1 Department of Human Movement Sciences, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen , (Netherlands)
  • 2 Graduate Program in Movement Sciences, Posture and Gait Studies Laboratory (LEPLO), Institute of Biosciences, São Paulo State University (UNESP), Rio Claro , (Brazil)
  • 3 Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen , (Netherlands)
  • 4 Department of Physical Education, Graduate Program in Movement Sciences, Human Movement Research Laboratory, São Paulo State University (UNESP), Bauru , (Brazil)
  • 5 Department of Sport Biology, Institute of Sport Sciences and Physical Education, Faculty of Sciences, University of Pécs, Pécs , (Hungary)
  • 6 Somogy County Kaposi Mór Teaching Hospital, Kaposvár , (Hungary)
Published Article
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Jun 21, 2021
DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2021.679282
  • Neuroscience
  • Original Research


Background: Repetitive sit-to-stand (rSTS) is a fatigue perturbation model to examine the age-effects on adaptability in posture and gait, yet the age-effects on muscle activation during rSTS per se are unclear. We examined the effects of age and exhaustive rSTS on muscle activation magnitude, onset, and duration during ascent and descent phases of the STS task. Methods: Healthy older (n = 12) and younger (n = 11) adults performed rSTS, at a controlled frequency dictated by a metronome (2 s for cycle), to failure or for 30 min. We assessed muscle activation magnitude, onset, and duration of plantar flexors, dorsiflexors, knee flexors, knee extensors, and hip stabilizers during the initial and late stages of rSTS. Before and after rSTS, we measured maximal voluntary isometric knee extension force, and rate of perceived exertion, which was also recorded during rSTS task. Results: Older vs. younger adults generated 35% lower maximum voluntary isometric knee extension force. During the initial stage of rSTS, older vs. younger adults activated the dorsiflexor 60% higher, all 5 muscle groups 37% longer, and the hip stabilizers 80% earlier. Older vs. younger adults completed 467 fewer STS trials and, at failure, their rate of perceived exertion was ~17 of 20 on the Borg scale. At the end of the rSTS, maximum voluntary isometric knee extension force decreased 16% similarly in older and younger, as well as the similar age groups decline in activation of the dorsiflexor and knee extensor muscles (all p < 0.05). Conclusion: By performing 467 fewer STS trials, older adults minimized the potential effects of fatigability on muscle activation, voluntary force, and motor function. Such a sparing effect may explain the minimal changes in gait after rSTS reported in previous studies, suggesting a limited scope of this perturbation model to probe age-effects on muscle adaptation in functional tasks.

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