Project ID CM-HD2024_59


Co Supervisor 1A Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, School of Basic & Medical Biosciences, Centre for Human & Applied Physiological SciencesWebsite

Co Supervisor 1B Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, School of Basic & Medical Biosciences, Centre for Human & Applied Physiological SciencesWebsite

The effects of age and exercise on neuromuscular function and fatigue

The life expectancy of the population has been steadily increasing for several years, unfortunately, health span, the period of life spent independent, active and disease free, is not increasing at the same rate. In part this is associated with age-related declines in neuromuscular function leading to disability and a loss of independence, impacting not only the individual but also the health services. The extent to which these declines can be attributed to age, reduced activity levels or the combination of both remains unclear. This project aims to investigate the combined impact of age and activity status on the neuromuscular system with a particular focus on muscle function and fatigue development.

The overarching objectives of the research are to:
• Assess the impact of age on neuromuscular function by comparing young and older individuals
• Investigate the impact of different forms of exercise training (resistance vs endurance) and inactivity on neuromuscular function
• Determine the extent by which an exercise intervention can alter neuromuscular function in untrained individuals

During this research you will learn to test individuals across a wide age range and of different exercise statuses. This will involve using a number of in-vivo techniques to assess whole body neuromuscular function including non-invasive measures of muscle activity and motor unit number using surface electromyography, strength assessments and fatigue protocols using dynamometry and also the use of transcranial magnetic and electrical stimulation to investigate the neural control of muscle.

This research can enhance our understanding of neuromuscular adaptations throughout the lifespan and shed light on potential strategies for mitigating age-related declines in muscle function. This knowledge may have implications for exercise prescription, rehabilitation programs, and the development of interventions targeting declines in neuromuscular function with age

Representative Publications

Pollock RD, Carter S, Velloso CP, Duggal NA, Lord JM, Lazarus NR, Harridge SDR. An investigation into the relationship between age and physiological function in highly active older adults. J Physiol 593: 657–80, 2015. Pollock RD, O’Brien KA, Daniels LJ, Nielsen KB, Rowlerson A, Duggal NA, Lazarus NR, Lord JM, Philp A, Harridge SDR. Properties of the vastus lateralis muscle in relation to age and physiological function in master cyclists aged 55–79 years. Aging Cell 17: e12753, 2018. Pollock RD, Woledge RC, Martin FC, Newham DJ. Effects of whole body vibration on motor unit recruitment and threshold. J Appl Physiol 112: 388–395, 2012.
Alsharifi A, Kaltsakas G, Pengo MF, Parati G, Serna-Pascual M, Rafferty G, et al. The effect of transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the submental area on the cardiorespiratory response in normal and awake subjects. Front Physiol. 2023; 14(March):1–11. Jacunski M, Rafferty GF. The effects of hypoxia and fatigue on skeletal muscle electromechanical delay. Exp Physiol. 2020; 105(5):842–51. DOI: 10.1113/EP088180