, Volume 100, Issue 5, pp 535-542
Date: 25 Apr 2006

Long-term strength training for community-dwelling people over 75: impact on muscle function, functional ability and life style

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Abstract

The objective was to determine the impact of a 1-year mixed strength-training programme on muscle function, functional ability, physical activity and life style. Twice-a-week hospital-based exercise classes and a once-a-week home session were conducted. Nineteen healthy community-dwelling training (T) men (76.6 ± 3.1 years), 19 women (77.5 ± 4.0 years) and 20 matched controls (C) participated in this study. Training was given with a two multi-gym machines for the lower limbs (Sitting calf and Leg press, TECHNOGYM, Italy) at 60% of the repetition maximum (1 RM) and at home it was with elastic bands. The following were the measurements made: muscle function—maximum isometric strength of the knee extensors (KE) and ankle plantar flexors (PF) measured with a Cybex Norm dynamometer, leg extensor power (LEP) with the Nottingham Power Rig; functional abilities—functional reach, chair rise, bed rise, 6-min walking test, stair climbing, get up and go, one-leg standing; physical activity—aerobic activities over 3 MET intensity (AA3), intensity classes; life-style—mean daily energy expenditure (MDEE). Significant gains in muscle function and functional abilities in both training females and males were observed, but females improved significantly more than males. Males (T + C) showed higher AA3 times than females (T + C) (P = 0.02), with females significantly more involved in light-intensity activities. We observed a 60% increase (t = 2.45) in AA3 time in T, but no increase in C. Trained males increased Class 2 physical activity time by 146% (t = 2.82) and trained females by 16% (t = 2.23). MDEE increased by 10% (t=2.62) in trained males. Our long-term mixed programme can improve muscle function and functional abilities in elderly females and functional abilities in males. It can positively affect the amount of habitual physical activity and the life-style of males and females over 75.

This study was supported by EC Contract QLK6-CT-2001-00323 (“Better Ageing”).