Many studies have investigated how aging decreases human strength and endurance. However, understanding the effect of aging on human motor ability requires more than knowledge of the separate temporal profile of individual motor function because the structure of human motor ability is multi-dimensional. We address the effect of aging on the multi-dimensional structure of human motor ability by investigating the performance records of athletes in track events across various age groups. We collected the performance records of 446 top-level decathletes whose ages ranged from 20 to 74, and performed a principal component analysis of the records in 100m, 1500m, and 400m races, which require strength, endurance, and the mixture of both, respectively. Our analysis shows that aging results in a substantial and sudden change in the motor ability structure, contrasting sharply with the gradual decrease in performance in each track event. The rapid structural change develops around the age of 50, which is much earlier than the “breakpoint” of 70 years suggested in multiple previous studies. Our findings indicate that the structural change in motor ability can significantly precede the failure in the overall motor performance.
Siddhartha Bikram Panday, Prabhat Pathak, Jeongin Moon, Jooeun Ahn
Published by Agin, 2019, 11(14), 5276-5286