We evaluated the effects of rowing on the morphology and function of the leg extensor muscle in old people. The area and the power of the leg extensor muscle were measured in 15 oarsmen - age [mean (SD)] 65 (3) years; height 171 (4) cm, body mass 68 (6) kg - and in 15 sedentary men - age 66 (4) years, height 170 (4) cm, body mass 67 (7) kg - who were matched on the basis of their body size. The leg extensor muscle area of the oarsmen was larger than that of the sedentary men [77.8 (5.4) vs 68.4 (5.1) cm2, P < 0.05]. Also the bilateral leg extension power of the oarsmen was larger than that of the sedentary men [1,624 (217) vs 1,296 (232) W, P < 0.05]. Thus, the leg extension power per the leg extensor muscle area was not significantly different between two groups [20.9 (2.0) vs 19.9 (2.1) W·cm-2) and leg extension power was correlated to the leg extensor muscle area (59-89 cm 2, r = 0.74, P < 0.001). Also the 2,000-m rowing ergometer time of the oarsmen [495 (14) s; range 479-520 s] was related to leg extensor muscle area (68-89 cm2, r = 0.63, P < 0.01). The results suggest that rowing prevents age-related muscle wasting and weakness.
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