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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; Juho Vainio Foundation; Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation; Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation; Alfred Kordelin Foundation; The Finnish Cultural Foundation

Research group
Principal Investigator

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

Postdoctoral Researcher Tuuli Suominen

Chief Laboratory Technician Bettina Hutzt

Senior Researcher Timo Törmäkangas

Professor emeritus Ari Heinonen, University of Jyväskylä

Professor emeritus Urho Kujala, University of Jyväskylä

University of Helsinki (Jaakko Kaprio, Seppo Sarna)

Karolinska Institutet (Lars Larsson)

Manchester Metropolitan University (prof. Hans Degens)

Catholic University of Brasília (prof. Herbert Simões)

German Aerospace (prof. Jörn Rittweger)

Bond University, Australia (prof. Peter Reaburn)


Korhonen MT, Kujala U, Kettunen J, Korhonen O, Kaprio J, Sarna S, Törmäkangas T. Longitudinal associations of high-volume and vigorous-intensity exercise with hip fracture risk in men. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 2022; 37(8), 1562–1570.

Kontro T, Bondarev D, Pyykönen K-M, von Bonsdorff M, Laakso L, Suominen H, Korhonen MT. Motives for competitive sports participation in masters track and field athletes: Impact of sociodemographic factors and competitive background. PLoS One, 2022 Nov 2;17(11):e0275900.

Aguiar SS, Neves RVP, Leite PLA, Maciel LA, Gutierrez SD, Rosa TS, Degens H, Korhonen MT, Lewis JE, Simões HG. Telomere Length, SIRT1, and Insulin in Master Athletes: The Path to Longevity? International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2022, 43(1):29-33.

Suominen TH, Alén M, Törmäkangas T, Degens H, Rittweger J, Heinonen A, Suominen H, Korhonen MT. Regular Strength and Sprint Training Counteracts Bone Aging: A 10‐Year Follow‐Up in Male Masters Athletes. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research Plus, 2021, 5(7), e10513

Barbosa L, Aguiar SdS, Santos PA, Santos T, Maciel LA, Deus LA, Neves RVP, Araújo Leite LA, Gutierrez SD, Sousa CV, Korhonen MT, Degens H, Simões HG. Relationship between inflammatory biomarkers and testosterone in male master athletes and non-athletes. Experimental Gerontology, 2021 Aug;151:111407.

Hentilä J, Hulmi JJ, Laakkonen E, Ahtiainen J, Suominen H, Korhonen MT. Sprint and Strength Training Modulates Autophagy and Proteostasis in Aging Sprinters. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2020; 52 (9), 1948-1959.

Aguiar SS, Sousa CV, Sales MM, Sousa HG, Santos PA, Barbosa LD, Rosa TS, Nakamura FY, Korhonen MT, Simões HG. Age-related decrease in performance of male masters athletes in sprint, sprint–endurance, and endurance events. Sport Sciences for Health, 2020; 16: 385–392.

Kulmala J-P, Korhonen MT, Ruggiero L, Kuitunen S, Suominen H, Heinonen A Mikkola A, Avela J. Ankle and knee extensor muscle effort during locomotion in young and older athletes: Implications for understanding age-related locomotor decline. Scientific Reports, 2020, 10: 2801

Rosa, TS; Neves R; Deus L; Sousa CV; da Silva Aguiar S; Moraes M; Rosa É, Korhonen MT, Simoes HG. Sprint and endurance training in relation to redox balance, inflammatory status and biomarkers of aging in master athletes. Nitric Oxide, 2020 Sep 1;102:42-51.

Ireland A, Mittag U, Degens H, Felsenberg D, Ferretti JL, Gilliver S, Heinonen A, Koltai E, Korhonen MT, Wilks DC, McPhee J, Mekjavic I, Piasecki J, Pisot R, Radak Z, Simunic B, Suominen H, Winwood K, Rittweger J. Greater maintenance of bone mineral content in male than female athletes and in sprinting and jumping than endurance athletes: a longitudinal study of bone strength in elite masters athletes. Archives of Osteoporosis, 2020, 15(1):87.

Messa GA, Piasecki M, Rittweger J, McPhee J, Koltai E, Radak Z, Suominen H, Heinonen A, Korhonen MT, Degens H. Absence of an ageing-related increase in fibre type grouping in athletes and non-athletes. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 2020, 30(11), 2057-2069.

Simões HG, Rosa TS, Sousa CV, Aguiar SdS, Motta-Santos D, Degens H, Korhonen MT, Campbell CSG. Does Longer Leukocyte Telomere Length and Higher Physical Fitness Protect Master Athletes From Consequences of Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Infection? Frontiers in Sports and Active Living, 2020, Jun 16;2:87.

Bagley L, McPhee JS, Ganse B, Müller K, Korhonen MT, Rittweger J, Degens H. Similar relative decline in aerobic and anaerobic power with age in endurance and power master athletes of both sexes. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 2019, 29(6): 791-799.

Delvecchio L, Stanton R, Reaburn P, McGregor C, Reaburn P, Meerkin J, Villegas J, Korhonen MT. Effects of combined strength and sprint training on lean mass, strength, power and sprint performance in masters road cyclists. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2019, Jan;33(1):66-79.

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 2017; 28(9): 2663-2673.

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, 2017:8468469.

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 Nov;48(11):2181-2189.

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, 2016, 48(11): 2181-89.

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, 2016, 62: 508-512.

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, 2016, 120:63-69.

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, 2016, 36:70-76.
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, 2014, 11(100): 1-10.

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.) 2012, 35(3), 1007-1015.

Ireland A., Korhonen MT, 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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