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Physical activity and successful aging
10th International EGREPA Conference

European Group for Research into Elderly and Physical Activity

14.09. - 16.09.2006 in Köln

The relevance of resistance training for seniors

Meeting Abstract

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Physical activity and successful aging. Xth International EGREPA Conference. Cologne, 14.-16.09.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. Doc06pasa024

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Published: December 18, 2006

© 2006 Greiwing.
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The increasing average life expectancies of industrialized populations and the associated accumulation of chronic diseases leads to major problems for our health systems. Up to now health and preventive exercise programs main objective was to increase cardiorespiratory fitness. The positive effects of endurance training on cardiorespiratory diseases are well documented [5]. Although resistance training has only minor positive effects on cardiorespiratory diseases it is a potent means to combat the age related loss of muscle power, strength and mass (Sarcopenia). The loss of muscle power, strength and mass is a major cause for disability in the elderly.

Critical discussion of resistance exercise recommendations for older people

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) [1] proposes a resistance training program of 8 – 10 exercises that uses all the major muscle groups. One set of 10 – 15 repetitions not to failure (perceived exertion rating: 12 – 13) for each exercise is recommended. The ACSM [1] advises that the movement speed should be controlled and ballistic movements should not be allowed.

Recent findings support the importance of metabolic stress for strength and muscle mass gain [3]. The combination of multiple sets of moderate intensity (50% of the 1 repetition maximum) with short interset rest periods (30 seconds) is an effective way to elicit substantial strength and hypertrophy effects [4]. Such a weight training regime would be a valuable alternative for older people with chronic orthopedic diseases (e.g. arthrosis) who can not tolerate the higher resistance intensities of a traditional weight training program intended to increase muscle strength and mass.

Activities of daily living (ADLs) are primarily affected by power and not maximum strength. Therefore the inclusion of rapid force-generating exercises at lower intensities should be considered as an important part of any resistance training program for the elderly [2].


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