Skip to content
Menu
Menu

Strength training for seniors

January 30, 2019

By Denis Taaffe, Professor Exercise Gerontologist, Edith Cowan University

Normal ageing is characterized by a reduction in muscle mass and strength, which can compromise an older person’s functional performance, such as the ability to climb stairs or rise from a chair, independence, and quality of life. Moreover, the decline in muscle strength contributes to poorer balance, increasing the risk of falls and fracture. While normal biological ageing as well as changing lifestyle patterns are primarily responsible for this deterioration in muscle mass and function, the loss in muscle mass and strength can be reduced, and even reversed with appropriate training, even in the very old.

For nearly two decades now, resistance or strength training has been reliably shown to be a safe and effective method to enhance muscle strength and muscle mass in older adults. Importantly, this form of exercise is well tolerated and is associated with improvements in daily activities, such as walking speed and endurance, climbing stairs, and rising from a chair. Age is no barrier for undertaking strength training.

A qualified exercise professional, in consultation with your GP, will be able to develop an exercise program for your specific needs, taking into consideration your current level of fitness and your medical history. Generally speaking, any exercise session should be less than one hour, commencing with a warm-up and finishing with a cool-down of low-level activity and stretching which can also include some abdominal and lower back strengthening exercise. The sessions should be undertaken 1-3 days per week with approximately 48 hours between sessions, although it should be noted that substantial strength gains can be achieved even doing only one session per week.

Ideally, exercises are performed on strength training machines that use weight stacks or hydraulics as these provide the appropriate resistance to the target muscle groups, are safe, and the movements are not technically challenging and easily learned. As participants become more confident in their abilities, free weight exercises can be included. If exercise machines are not available, then elastic bands, ankle and wrist weights, body weight, and resistance applied by the trainer or a could be employed.

As the goal for many older people is to maintain independence and a good quality of life, resistance training activities should be incorporated into their weekly schedule. Some people might also enjoy joining small group exercise sessions, providing social interaction, motivation and a relaxed environment in which to enjoy exercising.

 

References

  1. Rogers MA, Evans WJ. Changes in skeletal muscle with aging: effects of exercise training. Exerc Sport Sci Rev 1993;21:65-102.
  2. Taaffe DR. Sarcopenia: exercise as a treatment strategy. Aust Fam Physician 2006;35:130-133.
  3. Fiatarone MA, Marks E, Ryan ND, Meredith CN, Lipsitz LA, Evans WJ. High-intensity strength training in nonagenarians: effects on skeletal muscle. JAMA 1990;263:3029-3034.
  4. Galvão DA, Taaffe DR. Resistance training for the older adult: manipulating training variables to enhance muscle strength. Strength Cond J 2005;27(3):48-54.

Health and Wellness events encourage residents to live and age well

October 11, 2019

Living with dementia series: what dementia feels like

September 26, 2019

Dementia services team – delivering the very best in dementia care

September 17, 2019

What is dementia?

September 3, 2019

Building our workforce for the future

August 29, 2019

How do I get started with residential care?

June 20, 2019

The sky’s the limit for aviation enthusiast Arthur

June 13, 2019

Southern Cross Care recognised by Water Corp for commitment to reducing water waste

May 3, 2019

You are what you eat – healthy recipes for seniors

March 21, 2019

Living with rheumatoid arthritis

March 20, 2019

SCC’s Paradise Quays development update

February 22, 2019

Get your well-deserved break from caring for an elderly person with cancer

February 13, 2019

Strength training for seniors

January 30, 2019

Celebrating Christmas with dementia

December 20, 2018

Celebrating our volunteers

December 18, 2018

Melinda shares her experience of her aunt’s stay at Margaret Hubery House

October 30, 2018

Lionel’s sidecar adventure

October 30, 2018

Living well with Arthritis

October 12, 2018

Safe Space Art Exhibition

October 11, 2018

Frank Prendergast House hosts annual art exhibition

October 4, 2018

Success Retirement Village residents to benefit from new on-site Health and Wellness Clinic

September 26, 2018

SCC launches new real estate business

September 21, 2018

Transcending dementia through love and support

September 13, 2018

Come and meet the neighbours!

August 29, 2018

Intergenerational group at Jeremiah Donovan House

August 17, 2018

Retired, not expired; why you should consider retirement living

August 16, 2018

Southern Cross Care to develop an innovative aged care community in Ballajura

August 14, 2018

Bunnings Workshop at Frank Prendergast House

August 10, 2018

2018 Care and Ageing Expo

August 6, 2018

Staying healthy in winter

August 2, 2018
Scroll To Top