Resistance exercise builds muscle, ups strength among older adults
Getting older does not mean giving up muscle strength, for the experts at the University of Michigan Health System have indicated that not only can adults fight the battle of strength and muscle loss that comes with age, but the Golden Years can also be a time to get stronger.
“Resistance exercise is a great way to increase lean muscle tissue and strength capacity so that people can function more readily in daily life,” said Mark Peterson, a research fellow in the U-M Physical Activity and Exercise Intervention Research Laboratory, at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Normally, adults who are sedentary beyond age 50 can expect muscle loss of up to 0.4 pounds a year.
“That only worsens as people age. But even earlier in adulthood – the 30s, 40s and 50s – you can begin to see declines if you do not engage in any strengthening activities,” said Peterson.
“Our analyses of current research show that the most important factor in somebody”s function is their strength capacity. No matter what age an individual is, they can experience significant strength improvement with progressive resistance exercise even into the eighth and ninth decades of life,” he added.
A review article by U-M researchers showed that after an average of 18-20 weeks of progressive resistance training, an adult can add 2.42 pounds of lean muscle to their body mass and increases their overall strength by 25-30 percent.
Peterson said that anyone over age 50 should strongly consider participating in resistance exercise.
Exercises you can do using your own body weight include squats, standing up out of a chair, modified push-ups, lying hip bridges, as well as non-traditional exercises that progress through a full range of motion, such as Thai Chi or Pilates and Yoga.
“We firmly believe based on this research that progressive resistance training should be encouraged among healthy older adults to help minimize the loss of muscle mass and strength as they age,” said Peterson.
The study has been published in The American Journal of Medicine