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Population ageing in combination with functional limitations is a growing public health and economic burden. Exercise can maintain performance in various organ systems and promote functional capacity and independent life during the whole life-span. However, scientific evidence of the benefits of various types of exercise remains scanty. This study examines the association of life-long vs. youth-time strength, speed and endurance training with later life functional capacity. The study utilizes longitudinal and cross-sectional data of active and former athletes and untrained men of various ages. The data includes multiple determinants of functional capacity, especially physical activity, mobility, and musculoskeletal functions. The project enables a comprehensive evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of exercise. This has considerable importance to exercise recommendations and promoting functional capacity among the ageing population.

Academy of Finland; Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture

Research group
Principal Investigator

Docent Marko Korhonen,, Gerontology Research Center, Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä

Professor Urho Kujala, Jyväskylän yliopisto
Professor Ari Heinonen, Jyväskylän yliopisto
Professor emeritus Harri Suominen, University of Jyväskylä

Doctoral students
Reeta Kangas, reeta.m.s.kangas[at], University of Jyväskylä. Dissertation: Aging and microRNA messaging: associations with systemic estrogen levels and physical performance (2018, ISBN 978-951-39-7323-0).

Tuuli Suominen, tuuli.suominen[at], University of Jyväskylä. Topic: Adaptive response of aging bone to physical exercise: hip fracture patients and master athletes as a research model

University of Helsinki (Jaakko Kaprio, Seppo Sarna)
Manchester Metropolitan University (Hans Degens)
Karolinska Institutet (Lars Larsson)
German Aerospace (Jörn Rittweger)


Suominen T, Korhonen MT,  Alén M, Heinonen A, Mero A, Törmäkangas T, Suominen H. Effects of a 20-week high-intensity strength and sprint training program on tibial bone structure and strength in middle-aged and older male sprint athletes: a randomized controlled trial. Osteoporosis International, (DOI: 10.1007/s00198-017-4107-z, 2017).

Kangas R, Törmäkangas T, Heinonen A, Alen M, Suominen H, Laakkonen E, Kovanen V, Korhonen MT. Declining physical performance associates with serum FasL, miR-21 and miR-146a in aging athletes. BioMed Research International 2017; (

Kulmala J-P, Korhonen MT, Kuitunen S, Suominen H, Heinonen A, Mikkola A, Avela J. Whole body frontal plane mechanics across walking, running, and sprinting in young and older adults. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 2016; June 12 (Epub ahead of print, DOI: 10.1111/sms.12709.

Kulmala J-P, Korhonen MT, Ruggiero L, Kuitunen S, Suominen H, Heinonen A, Mikkola A, Avela J. Walking and running require greater effort from ankle than knee extensor muscles. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 48(11): 2181-89, 2016.

Cheng S, Degens H, Evans M, Cheng SM, Selänne H, Rittweger J, Heinonen A, Suominen H, Strandberg T, Alen M, Korhonen MT. What makes a 97-year-old man cycle 5 000 km a year?  Gerontology 62: 508-512, 2016.

Stenroth L, Cronin NJ, Peltonen J, Korhonen MT, Sipilä S, Finni T. Triceps surae muscle-tendon properties in older endurance- and sprint- trained master athletes and in untrained men. Journal of Applied Physiology 120:63-69, 2016.

Drey D, Sieber CC, Degens H, McPhee J, Korhonen MT, Müller K, Ganse B, Rittweger J. Relation between muscle mass, motor units and type of training in master athletes. Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging 36:70-76, 2016.

Kulmala J-P, Korhonen MT, Kuitunen S, Suominen H, Heinonen A, Mikkola A. Avela J. Which muscles compromise locomotor performance with age? Journal of the Royal Society Interface 11(100): 1-10, 2014.

Ganse B, Degens H, Drey M, Korhonen MT, McPhee J, Müller K, Johannes B, Rittweger J. Impact of age, performance and athletic event on injury rates in master athletics – First results from an ongoing prospective study. Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interaction 2014, 14(2), 148-154.

Rantalainen T, Suominen H, Duckham R, Alen M, Heinonen A, Korhonen MT. Tibial and fibular mid-shaft bone traits in young and older sprinters and non-athletic men. Calcified Tissue International 2014, 95(2), 132-140.

Degens  H, Rittweger  Jörn, Parviainen T, Timonen K, Suominen H, Heinonen A, Korhonen MT. Diffusion capacity of the lung in young and old endurance athletes. International Journal of Sport Medicine 2013, 34:1051-1057.

Korhonen MT, Heinonen A, Siekkinen J, Isolehto J, Alén M, Kiviranta I, Suominen H. Bone density, structure and strength and their determinants in aging sprint athletes. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2012, 44(12): 2340-2349.

Degens H, Korhonen MT. Factors contributing to the variability in muscle aging. Maturitas 2012, 73, 197-201.

Degens H, Maden-Wilkinson TM, Ireland A, Korhonen MT, Suominen H, Heinonen A, Radak Z, McPhee JS, Rittweger J. Relationship between ventilatory function and age in master athletes a sedentary reference population. Age (Dordr.) Jun 35(3), 1007-1015, 2012.

Ireland, A., Korhonen, M., Heinonen, A., Suominen, H., Baur, C., Stevens, S., Degens, H., Rittweger, J. Side-to-side differences in bone strength in master jumpers and sprinters. Journal Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions 2011; 11(4): 298-305.

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