After reading this study, there is evidence that it does.
The study I liked to above is called “Chronic Exercise Preserves Lean Muscle Mass in Masters Athletes.” The image above is a cross section of the legs of a 40-year-old triathlete and the associated muscle.
The two images below are the interesting ones though…
As you can see, the 74-year-old legs are not unlike those of the 40-year-old.
The study’s authors go on to write:
“It is commonly believed that with aging comes an inevitable decline from vitality to frailty. This includes feeling weak and often the loss of independence. These declines may have more to do with lifestyle choices, including sedentary living and poor nutrition, than the absolute potential of musculoskeletal aging.
In this study, we sought to eliminate the confounding variables of sedentary living and muscle disuse, and answer the question of what really happens to our muscles as we age if we are chronically active. This study and those discussed here show that we are capable of preserving both muscle mass and strength with lifelong physical activity.”
They conclude by writing:
“The loss of lean muscle mass and the resulting subjective and objective weakness experienced with sedentary aging imposes significant but modifiable personal, societal, and economic burdens. As sports medicine clinicians, we must encourage people to become or remain active at all ages. This study, and those reviewed here, document the possibility to maintain muscle mass and strength across the ages via simple lifestyle changes.”
I wish they would have had a picture of the legs of a 40-year-old sedentary man. Then some real comparisons could be made. But just look at the legs of the 74 year olds. How amazing is that?