Strength Training for ElderlyThink strength training is just for young people? Think again! A new study from the University of Navarre in Spain found significant fitness gains for people ages 91-96 who performed three months of strength training. The results were published in the American Aging Association’s journal, Age.

In the study, participants were assigned multicomponent training two times per week. Exercises focused on building strength and balance. After 12 weeks, participants saw increases in:

  • Functional capacity (ability to rise from chairs)
  • Muscle power
  • Muscle mass
  • Walking speed
  • Balance

Participants also experienced a reduced risk of falling after the training.

Age-related loss of muscle mass and function is known as sarcopenia. Muscle loss naturally happens in the body as we age, often accelerating in our 60s and 70s. This can lead to frailty and weakness.

Resist muscle loss by adding resistance training to your routine. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends weight or resistance training at least two days per week. Exercises should target all the major muscle groups:

  • Legs
  • Hips
  • Back
  • Abdominals
  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Arms

The CDC has created a resistance program for older adults called “Growing Stronger”. Equipment used in the program include: dumbbells, a step or very low plyo box near a railing, exercise mat, and a squeezing ball for strengthening hand muscles used in gripping. The program focuses on functional exercises designed to improve muscles used in activities of daily living (ADL).

Looking for the fountain of youth? Resistance training is a good place to start!

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