Skip Navigation Links



    Learn More     Subscribe    
Join Now!      Login
Antioxidants Quiz
Which of the following is an antioxidant?
itness Programs for Older Adults
Strength Training For Seniors: The Facts

© Wayne L. Westcott PhD

During the past several years, many studies have highlighted the health value of strength training for aging adults. Research at the University of Maryland has shown that strength training is effective for improving glucose metabolism 1, increasing bone mineral density2, and speeding up gastrointestinal transit3. Studies at Tufts University have demonstrated that strength exercise adds lean tissue 4, increases resting metabolism 5, and reduces arthritic discomfort6. Extensive work at the University of Florida has shown that strength training increases low back strength and alleviates low back pain 7.

From an athletic perspective, research reveals that strength training improves golf performance by increasing club head speed and driving power 8. Empirical evidence indicates that strength exercise may also enhance other physical activities s as tennis 9 and cycling 10.

While all of these health and performance factors are important, perhaps the most compelling concerns for most seniors are the three "B"s. These are bodyweight, body composition, and blood pressure. Generally speaking, senior men and women are concerned about gaining weight, getting soft, and experiencing elevated blood pressure. They have already discovered that dieting doesn't produce permanent weight loss, and that walking is not very effective for firming muscles. Quite true. They are afraid to try strength training because they've heard that it will increase their blood pressure. Untrue.

Several small-scale studies have shown that strength exercise is effective for decreasing bodyweight11, increasing lean weight 12, and reducing resting blood pressure13. In addition, strength training results in a higher resting metabolic rate 14 and greater daily energy utilization 5.

But what specific changes can seniors expect from a basic program of strength exercise? We recently analyzed data on 1,132 men and women who completed the South Shore YMCA basic fitness program 15. All of the participants performed 25 minutes of strength exercise and 25 minutes of endurance exercise, two or three days per week for a period of eight weeks.

The strength training program included the following Nautilus exercises: (1)leg extension; (2) leg curl; (3) leg press; (4) chest cross; (5) chest press; (6) super pullover; (7) lateral raise; (8) biceps curl; (9) triceps extension; (10) low back; (11) abdominal; (12) neck flexion; and (13) neck extension. Each exercise was performed for one set of 8 to 12 repetitions, at a slow movement speed (2 seconds lifting and 4 seconds lowering), and through a full movement range. Resistance was increased by approximately five percent when 12 repetitions were completed.

The endurance training program involved treadmill walking and stationary cycling. Participants exercised at about 70 to 75 percent of their maximum heart rate, and progressively increased their training time to 25 minutes of continuous aerobic activity.

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.

Add your comment   CONTINUED    1  2  3  4  5  Next   
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 American Senior Fitness Association, and the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, and editorial advisor for many publications, including Prevention, Shape, and......more
Share   Facebook   Buzz   Delicious   Digg   Twitter  
From Our Sponsor
Featured Events
Wellness Inventory Certification Training
     September 16-December 16, 2014
     Teleclass, CA USA
Additional Calendar Links
Wellness, Breathing, dimension!

Home       Wellness       Health A-Z       Alternative Therapies       Find a Practitioner       Healthy Products       Bookstore       Wellness Inventory
Healthy Kitchen       Healthy Woman       Healthy Man       Healthy Child       Healthy Aging       Wellness Center       Nutrition Center       Fitness Center
Free Newsletter      What Doctor's Don't Tell You      Discount Lab Tests      First Aid      Global Health Calendar      Privacy Policy     Contact Us

Disclaimer: The information provided on HealthWorld Online is for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.