Simple resistance training could hold the key to an independent old age. Experts from the University of Queensland suggest that it can improve muscle strength, power and functional performance in older adults, making them less cumbersome to their caregivers.
Lead researcher Tim Henwood, a postdoctoral research fellow with UQ and Blue Care, examined how people over the age of 65 responded to resistance training.
"What we were looking at was how simple resistance training can improve muscle strength, power and functional performance," said Dr Henwood.
"By building strength we are aiming to improve the quality of life of older people and allow them to maintain independence into later life.
"This type of training not only has significant physical benefits but has also been associated with a decreased risk of later life disease," he added.
During the study, participants were asked to do a basic twice-weekly, machine-based resistance training program that targeted the major muscles of the upper and lower body.
All training sessions were thoroughly supervised to promote motivation and correct technique.
"We saw some very significant increases, up to a 50 percent in muscle strength and power," he said.
"However, the really important increases were those we saw in the participant's functional ability.
"For this age group these increases are what allows them to keep successfully climbing stairs and getting out of chairs, thereby allowing them to retain their independence," he added.