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Resistance Exercise Improves Physical Performance in the Elderly
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Dec 27 - Simple exercises conducted on resistance training machines lead to a variety of favorable effects on muscle strength and performance in the elderly, Australian researchers report in the December issue of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society. Moreover, even relatively low-volume work leads to significant improvement.
As investigator Dr. Dennis R. Taaffe told Reuters Health, "only a modest amount of resistance exercise, performed on a regular basis, is required to enhance muscle strength and physical performance in older adults, which may assist in the prevention of disability and thereby prolong independence."
Dr. Taaffe of the University of Queensland, Brisbane and Daniel A. Galvao of Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, determined if a single-set or three-set exercise regimen improves physical function in 28 women and men between the ages of 65 and 78 years old.
The subjects were randomized to high-intensity resistance training involving one or three sets of seven exercises. Both targeted muscle groups of the upper and lower body. Exercises were conducted twice a week for 20 weeks.
At follow-up, both groups showed a significant increase in isotonic muscle strength (p < 0.01). There were larger improvements in the three-set group; these subjects had a significantly greater increase in muscle strength and endurance (p < 0.05). However, both groups demonstrated considerable benefit.
This is of importance concluded Dr. Taaffe, because "shorter exercise protocols would be beneficial in community-based programs, permitting a larger number of people to train with the available equipment."
This study was aimed at determining the effect of a group-based exercise program on the physical performance, muscle strength and quality of life (QoL) in older women. Twenty women performed an exercise program for 8 weeks, at the rehabilitation unit. Outcome measures included a 4-m and 20-m walk test, a 6-min walk test, stair climbing and chair rise time, timed up and go test, isokinetic muscle testing of the knee and ankle, and the short form-36 (SF-36) and geriatric depression scale (GDS) questionnaires. The mean age of the study group was 70.3+/-6.5 years. After the completion of the exercise program, all of the physical performance tests and the SF-36 scores for the participants showed statistically significant improvements (p<0.05). In the isokinetic evaluations, most of angular velocities showed a significant increase in the peak torque (PT) values for knee extension and flexion, and for ankle plantar flexion (p<0.05). We concluded that this exercise program, when applied to older women, resulted in improved physical performance, increased muscle strength measured in both the knee and ankle, and improvement in the scores, estimating the QoL. We have shown that this exercise program is both effective and reliable for this age group of women.