Resistance training empowers healthy aging, paper says
For many older adults, resistance training may not be part of their daily routine, it is vital to improving their health and longevity, according to a new position statement published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
The paper, supported by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, highlights the benefits of strength and resistance training in older adults for healthier aging. Maren Fragala, PhD, lead author and director of scientific affairs at Quest Diagnostics, says that that while aging does take a toll on the body, the statement provides evidence-based recommendations for successful resistance training, or exercise focused on building muscle endurance, programs for older adults.
"Aging, even in the absence of chronic disease, is associated with a variety of biological changes that can contribute to decreases in skeletal muscle mass, strength and function," Fragala said in a statement. "Such losses decrease physiologic resilience and increase vulnerability to catastrophic events.”
The position statement provides 11 practical applications divided into four main components: program design variables, physiological adaptations, functional benefits, and considerations for frailty, sarcopenia and other chronic conditions.
The applications include suggestions on training types and amounts of repetitions and intensities, patient groups that will need adaptations in training models, and how training programs can be adapted for older adults with disabilities or those residing in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, said Mark Peterson, PhD, MS, FACSM, senior author and an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Michigan Medicine.
"Current research has demonstrated that resistance training is a powerful care model to combat loss of muscle strength and mass in the aging population," said Peterson. "We demonstrate in this position statement just how much resistance training can positively affect physical functioning, mobility, independence, chronic disease management, psychological wellbeing, quality of life and healthy life expectancy. We also provide recommendations for how to optimize resistance training programs to ensure safety and effectiveness."
Fragala adds that the benefits of participating in resistance training as an older adult outweigh the risks.
"The coauthors of this paper and the hundreds of other prolific researchers whose work we synthesized in this position statement have found that in most cases, the vast benefits of resistance training largely outweigh the risks when training is properly implemented," Fragala said.