3. Seniors can decrease their fat weight. Like the younger program participants, the senior subjects lost more than four pounds of fat weight during the eight week training period.
4. Seniors can increase their lean (muscle) weight. The seniors in this study added 2.4 pounds of lean weight after two months of training. In the important area of muscle replacement, the senior men and women did just as well as the young and middle-aged adults.
5. Seniors can reduce their resting blood pressure. Following eight weeks of regular exercise, the senior subjects experienced a 3.7 mm Hg drop in their diastolic blood pressure and a 6.2 mm Hg drop in their diastolic blood pressure. These resting blood pressure decreases were greater than those of the younger program participants.
6. Seniors can develop physically active lifestyles, even after years of sedentary behavior. Over 90 percent of the senior program participants continued to exercise after the completion of the study. They were highly satisfied with the results of the eight-week exercise program and committed themselves to keep up their training efforts.
In summary, seniors have much to gain from regular strength training, particularly as part of a supervised exercise program. The senior men and women in this study reported looking, feeling and functioning better, which is consistent with their recorded improvements in bodyweight, body composition, and resting blood pressure. It appears that an hour of exercise, two or three days a week is one of the best investments seniors can make for their health and fitness.
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. and author of the new Nautilus book, Building Strength and Stamina.
1. Hurley, B. (1994). Does strength training improve health status? Strength and Conditioning Journal, 16: 7-13.
2. Menkes, A., Mazel, S., Redmond, R. et al. (1993). Strength training increases bone mineral density and bone remodeling in middle-aged and older men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 74: 2478-2484.
3.Koffler, K., Menkes, A., Redmond, W. et al. (1992). Strength training accelerates gastrointestinal transit in middle-aged and older men. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 24: 415-419.
4. Frontera, W., Meredith, C., O'Reilly, K. et al. (1988). Strength conditioning in older men: skeletal muscle hypertrophy and improved function.Journal of Applied Physiology. 64 (3): 1038-1044.
5. Campbell, W., Crim, M., Young, V. and Evans, W. (1994). Increased energy requirements and changes in body composition with resistance training in older adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60: 167-175.
6. Tufts University ëiet and Nutrition Letter. (1994). Never too late to build up your muscle. 12: 6-7 (September).
7. Risch, S., Nowell, N., Pollock, M. et al. (1993). Lumbar strengthening in chronic low back pain patients. Spine, 18: 232-238.
8. Westcott, W. (1995). Pumping irons. Nautilus, 17-19, Spring.
9. Westcott, W. (1995). Tennis: Serve up your best performance. Nautilus, 41-43, Spring.
10. Westcott, W. (1994). Cycling: Pedal past winter's obstacles. Nautilus, 31-33, Winter.