Explosive resistance training in older adults

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Dear Editor,

I am writing to you about your article on "Explosive resistance in old and very old adults." I found the article to be very interesting and filled with a lot of great information. I am fond of the reason that you decided to see how neuromuscular junctions function as humans get older. Many people argue that performing resistance training can not only increase muscle mass and function, it may also help neurons in the brain function more properly. There also have been studies done where resistance training has been shown to control glycaemic intake.

Irvine (2009) performed a study in which he had 372 people with type two diabetes and put them on a progressive resistance training regimen. The results indicated that there was a significant reduction in glycosylated haemoglobin. The progressive resistance training also showed a dramatic increase in strength. This study has shown that resistance training is definitely an option in controlling type two diabetes.

Resistance training seems to show more and more benefits as research is done not only on the general population but also the elderly. Controlling diabetes for any population is definitely a significant step in trying to keep them healthy. The people that believe resistance training is bad, need to look at all of the good things it has to offer. If we can help people control a major metabolic disease and hopefully let them have a better life, then what other evidence to people need.

I would like to infer for a bit about the limitations of the study. Is there was any way the participants were tracked after they were working out every two days? I am thinking that if the elderly people in this study decided to participate, then they may already be active and put forth a greater effort than their counterparts. The participants may also have engaged in other activities than just the resistance training which may have skewed the results in the performance measures.

Marsh (2009) engaged 45 participants who were at least 75 years old and had trouble with every day activities in resistance training. The participants performed leg extension exercises at maximum force. The strength training and power training groups showed increased performance in both knee extension and leg press machines. The participants who had compromised function and did power training, had significant increases in strength.

All of these studies have shown that resistance training is definitely beneficial in older adults with not only the increase in strength but an increase in joint rotation. Bird (2009) conducted a study in a blinded randomized crossover trial, with 32 older adults (M = 66.9 yr) participated in a resistance-exercise program and a flexibility-exercise program for 16 weeks each. Timed up-and-go, 10 times sit-to-stand, and step test were also assessed, and lower limb strength was measured. Resistance training resulted in significant increases in strength that were not evident in the flexibility intervention.
Resistance training seems to have an effect on joint rotation and flexibility along with strength gains. A resistance training program should be implemented for older adults. This could be extremely beneficial to promoting their life and also possibly keeping them from falling down.

Bird, M., & Hill, K., (2009). Effects of Resistance- and Flexibility-Exercise interventions on
balance and related measures in older adults. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. 17.
Retrieved from

Caserotti, P., & Aagaard, P., (2007). Explosive heavy-resistance training in old and very
old adults: changes in rapid muscle force, strength and power. Scandinavian
Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 18.doi:10.1111/j.1600-
0838.2007.00732.x. Retrieved from

Irvine, C., &Taylor, N., (2009). Progressive resistance exercise improves glycaemic control in
people with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review. Australian Journal of
Physiotherapy.55.Retrieved from

Marsh, A., & Miller, M., (2009). Lower extremity muscle function after strength or
power training in older adults. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. 17. Retrieved from

1 Reply

  • With all the evidence suggesting the benefits of resistance training in older adults, we now have to get them to participate in the training. We already know that it improves their strength, balance, bone stability, and overall health, but how come we don't see gyms filled with senior citizens? With this demographic, we must first educate them on the benefits they can receive from resistance training, but that may be easier said than done. In my opinion, the older generations, for the most part, struggle with technology and the internet, thus leaving them with limited access to gaining this new, valuable information. Second, once they are educated and feel the need to incorporate resistance training into their lives, they have to have facilities in which they can do so. Simply going to a regular gym or rec. center may be intimidating and discourage them from going.
    As fitness and movement science specialists, I feel it is our responsibility to both educate and facilitate the means by which exercise can be available to all, the elderly included.

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