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 Strength Training For Seniors: The Facts  
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Keeping Fit by . View all columns in series

The basic fitness program was offered in a separate and carefully supervised exercise room. Classes were held almost every hour throughout the day, and typically had six participants with two instructors. All class members were assessed for bodyweight, body composition, fat weight, lean (muscle) weight, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure before and after the two-month training period.

Bodyweight and Body Composition Changes
The 1,132 basic fitness program participants included 238 young adults (21 to 40 years), 552 middle-aged adults (41 to 60 years), and 341 senior adults (61 to 80 years). As shown in Table 1, all three age groups started the program with similar bodyweights (172.7 lbs. to 179.9 lbs.) and percent fat readings (25.6% to 27.2%).

Table 1. Changes in bodyweight and body composition for young, middle-aged and older program participants(N=1132).

Age Body Weight Pre (lbs.) Body Weight Post (lbs.) Body Weight Change (lbs.) Percent Fat
Pre (%)
Percent Fat
Post (%)
Percent Fat Change (%) Fat Weight Pre (lbs.) Fat Weight Post (lbs.) Fat Weight Change (lbs.) Lean Weight Pre (lbs.) Lean Weight Post (lbs.) Lean Weight Change (lbs.)
21-40 years
176.5 173.9 -2.6 27.2 24.9 -2.3 49.1 44.2 -4.9 127.4 129.7 +2.3
41-60 years (N=553) 179.9 177.9 -2.0 27.0 24.9 -2.1 48.9 44.5 -4.4 130.8 133.1 +2.3
61-80 years (N=341) 172.7 171.0 -1.7 25.6 23.6 -2.0 44.7 40.6 -4.1 128.0 130.4 +2.4

The bodyweight and body composition changes were comparable for the young, middle-aged and senior adults. As presented in Table 1, the 21 to 40 year olds lowered their bodyweight by 2.6 pounds and their percent fat by 2.3%. The 41 to 60 year olds decreased their bodyweight by 2.0 pounds and their percent fat by 2.1%. The 61 to 80 year olds reduced their bodyweight by 1.7 pounds and their percent fat by 2.0%.

Changes in fat weight and lean weight were also similar for the three age groups. The 21 to 40 year olds lost 4.9 pounds of fat weight and added 2.3 pounds of lean weight. The 41 to 60 year olds lost 4.4 pounds of fat weight and added 2.3 pounds of lean weight. The 61 to 80 year olds lost 4.1 pounds of fat weight and added 2.4 pounds of lean weight, for a 6.5 pound change in their body composition (see Table 1).

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 About The Author
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the......moreWayne Westcott PhD
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