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The benefits of strength training for older adults

As we get older, a number of physiologic and functional changes occur which can lead to disability, frailty and falls. Muscle mass and strength tends to decline as age increases, highlighting the importance strength-training exercises to combat weakness and frailty.

Research has shown that strength training performed 2-3 days per week builds muscle strength and muscle mass, and preserves bone density. It also promotes independence and vitality, as well as reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Signs of heart disease, osteoarthritis and type II diabetes are also reduced, as well as promoting better sleep and reducing depression.

A variety of strength-training prescriptions from highly controlled laboratory-based to minimally supervised home-based programmes have the ability to produce significant health benefits in older adults. A challenge is in providing safe and effective access to programmes in a variety of settings.

Seguin, R. et al. (2003). The benefits of strength training for older adults. Am J Prev Med. (3) 141-9.

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