Strength Training Seniors Gain Muscle, Multiple Health Benefits and Enhanced Independ Living Ability
Source: J Cell Physiology (2022)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (April 25, 2023)
We know that as certain hormones decline with age, among other things, it leads to decreased muscle mass and strength. If left unchecked this can lead to significant weakness and frailty that we often see in older individuals, accompanied by increased risk of falls, life-threatening fractures, and loss of independent living. Research shows we begin losing muscle mass around age 35, and the process really escalates after we hit 60 years of age. In fact, after age 60 you can lose up to 3% of your muscle mass each year.
We also know that strength training can increase muscle mass and strength in young people, but what about people over the age of 60 or 65?
Well, an impressive study published the journal Cell Physiology in 2022 showed that when older subjects (average age 72) followed a simple strength training program for 8-weeks they saw significant improvements in their muscle mass, strength and connective tissues that resulted in improved performance on many levels. In fact, the subgroup of 10 participants who were 86-90 years old realized strength gains of 174% and added 9% more muscle to their thigh quadricep muscles alone. These individuals were all residents of a long-term care facility, who were not ill, but not especially healthy either, as the researchers stated. As they commented, the study demonstrated that even the oldest of the old can improve strength and muscle mass. The problem is that only 9% of people over the age of 75 perform strength training regularly.
A 2019 study in people over 75 suggests that as little as one hour of strength training per week can improve walking speed, leg strength, and one’s ability to stand up from chair. The researchers suggest performing one to three sets of eight to 15 repetitions per exercise using a weight you can lift 8 to 15 times that’s challenging enough but not so heavy that you sacrifice proper form. The idea is to do multi-joint exercises like basic squats, overhead press, chest press, seated rowing, and lat pulldowns. If you are unfamiliar with these then get a personal trainer or fitness professional to walk you through a simple 30-minute program and do it at least twice per week. That’s how you get results any at age and help to maintain your independence and functionality.
One last point is that adding a whey protein shake to your daily intake, coupled with strength training, will likely speed up and enhance your overall results. This is because whey protein contains the best mixture of amino acids to build connective tissue (including collagen) as well as muscle. Studies show that giving whey protein to seniors helps them recover lost muscle. I’m a big fan of strength training and whey protein intake, as part of a healthy lifespan program. More young people and older people should embrace it.
I have included the references for this information in the text below.
Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time.
Soendenbroe C et al. Human skeletal muscle acetycholine receptor gene expression in elderly males performing heavy resistance training. Cell Physiology. 2022; 323,1 : https://journals.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/ajpcell.00365.2021
How Old is too Old to Start Strength Training? Medscape April 24, 2023
Sara Y Oikawa, Chris McGlory, Lisa K D’Souza, Adrienne K Morgan, Nelson I Saddler, Steven K Baker, Gianni Parise, Stuart M Phillips. A randomized controlled trial of the impact of protein supplementation on leg lean mass and integrated muscle protein synthesis during inactivity and energy restriction in older persons. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2018; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002916522030246?via%3Dihub
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.