Posted on Jul 01, 2011, 6 a.m.
Progressive strength (resistance) training helps to counteract aging-related muscle declines.
While people typically lose 30% of their muscle strength between the ages of 50 and 70 years, it is critically important to maintain muscle strength as we age, to preserve mobility and independent living. Frank Mayer, from the University of Potsdam (Germany), and colleagues reviewed recently published studies about strength (resistance) training in elderly persons, and which intensities of exercise are useful and possible in persons older than 60 years. The team found that regular strength (resistance) training increased muscle strength, reduced muscular atrophy, and that tendons and bones adapt too. These successes in turn had a preventive effect in terms of avoiding falls and injuries. Greater intensities of training yielded greater effects than moderate and low intensities. In order to increase muscle mass, an intensity of 60-85% of the one-repetition-maximum is required. In order to increase rapidly available muscle force, higher intensities (greater than 85%) are required. The optimum amount of exercise for healthy elderly persons is 3 to 4 training units per week. The researchers urge that: “Progressive strength training in the elderly is efficient, even with higher intensities, to reduce sarcopenia, and to retain motor function.”
Mayer, F; Scharhag-Rosenberger, F; Carlsohn, A; Cassel, M; Muller, S; Scharhag, J. “The Intensity and Effects of Strength Training in the Elderly.” Dtsch Arztebl Int 2011; 108(21): 359-64.