Master World Records show minor gender differences of performance decline with aging

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Paolo Gava
Barbara Ravara *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Barbara Ravara | barbara.ravara@unipd.it

Abstract

Aging behaviours are significantly different in females and males, e.g., the former have a longer life expectancy, but consistently a weaker muscle force. Our purpose is to analyse possible gender-differential declines of skeletal muscle performance. The method to find out the decline of performances with aging is based on a parametric analysis of the World Records of Master athletes in different Track and Field events. The analysis is a transformation (normalization) of sports results into dimensionless parameters ranging from the maximum value of 1 (for the absolute world record) to decreasing values with decreasing performances. Master athletes compete in age groups of 5 years till the age of 100 years, thus their World Records are lists of up to 16 data. Results of the normalization procedure are trend-lines indicating that the decline starts not later than the age of thirty years for both women and women. The decline with aging of the muscle performances indicates only minor gender differences in the aging process and all trend-lines tend to zero at about the age of 110 years. The approach, making use of a homogeneous cohort of testers, gets rid of the main confounding factors biasing other kind of studies of the muscle performance decline with aging, in particular clinical studies. Comparing normalized female and male World Records of Master athletes, a surprise emerged: aging decline is very similar, if not identical, the unique exception to the general rule of gender differences in sports activities. The substantial identity of decline trends among females and males suggests that neuro-hormonal differences among genders poorly influence the aging decline, being conceivably related to fundamental cell bioregulators, such as those of cellular energy metabolism and/or their epigenetic regulatory mechanisms.


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