Never Too Old

September 8th, 2014 by Joan Maiden

I’m often asked can frail elderly people really get strong again and how old is too old to start a strength training program.  A study* of people over the age of 90 who where put on a strength training program had the following results.  They:

  •  replaced about four pounds of lean (muscle) weight
  • reduced about three pounds of fat weigh
  • increased their leg strength by more than 80 percent
  • increased their upper body strength by almost 40 percent
  • enhanced their joint flexibility by 30 percent,
  • improved the functional independence measure (FIM Score) by almost 15 percent
  • exhibited better physical and mental fitness
  • had more endurance
  • experienced less low back pain
  • lowered the risk of falls
  • improved muscle power

The amazing thing is that these results were accomplished in just 14 weeks of strength training working out  only 15-20 minutes twice per week.  The exercises consisted of a five-machine Nautilus program and each exercise was performed for one set of 8 to 12 repetitions to the point of moderate muscle fatigue.  When 12 repetitions were completed in good form (slow movement speed and full movement range), the weightload was increased by about five percent.  

Avoid the pitfalls of becoming frail and elderly by starting a strength training program today.  But remember, even after 90, it’s never to late to get strong.

 

 

*Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., C.S.C.S, is Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA.


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