Strength Training and Aging

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Inactivity in old age has a profound, deleterious effect on functional capacity and quality of life. However, research on strength training has consistently shown that older adults are capable of marked improvements in force-generating capacity. Such improvements in strength may lead to improvements in functional capability, which, for the oldest old, is vital to the maintenance of community independence. Since gains in strength for the older adult who resistance trains far exceed the gains in lean mass, most of the strength increase is due to enhanced neural activation. Important research directions for the future are to determine what magnitudes of strength gain are necessary for improvements in functional aspects of movement such as balance, flexibility, or speed of reaction and the prevention of frailty in the very old by initiating appropriate exercise programs before significant functional deterioration occurs.

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