Three PhD’s in exercise science (and a number of other related disciplines) set out to write the definitive evidence-based text book on physical fitness. The result is the 2016 book Evidence-Based Practice in Exercise Science: The Six-Step Approach. The three authors are:
William E. Amonette, PhD, is the University of Houston’s director of the exercise and health sciences program in the Department of Clinical Health and Applied Sciences.
Kirk L. English, PhD, is a senior scientist and works in the Exercise Physiology and Countermeasures Laboratory at NASA – Johnson Space Center. He is also a research scientist in the Department of Nutrition and Metabolism at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
William J. Kraemer, PhD, is a professor at the Department of Health Sciences at Ohio State University. He is also editor in chief of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, editor of the European Journal of Applied Physiology, and associate editor of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
In their preface one of their aims was: “This book is intended to serve as a primary textbook for undergraduate and graduate exercise science courses that introduce students to the evidence-based philosophy, as well as to guide them in the fundamentals of its practice.”
One of the chapters is “Resistance Exercise and Functional Outcomes in Those Who Are Elderly”. Just two concise yet comprehensive paragraphs serve as a good summary and overview for the average non-PhD readers like you and me.
Aging and the decline in muscle mass:
“Aging is normally associated with a number of declines in physiological function such as a decrease in balance, reduction in bone mineral density, and dysregulation of hormone activity. Aging is also associated with a normal loss of skeletal muscle mass and a resultant reduction in strength and power. The loss of skeletal muscle mass and associated decline in strength, power, and function is a normal phenomenon, termed sarcopenia. Increased disease and disability rates in those who are elderly results in a reduction in the ability to complete normal activities of daily living and, consequently, in a decreased hypertrophic or eutrophic stimulus on skeletal muscle. Resistance training is effective to preserve muscle and improve strength in a variety of populations.”
The benefits of strength training:
“All the analysis and studies examined strongly support the use of resistance exercise for improving strength and functional outcomes in adults who are elderly. Perhaps the most comprehensive of these was a Cochrane review performed by Liu and Latham (2009). Their analysis included 121 studies comprising a total of 6700 participants. Eighty three of the 121 studies included high-intensity resistance exercise as a primary intervention; most were performed two or three times a week. Most studies were longer than 12 weeks. Combined analysis across the 121 studies indicated that progressive resistance exercise had a large effect on 6 minute walk distance, gait speed, and timed up-and-go. Exercise intensity significantly affected strength outcomes. Studies using heavier resistance showed greater improvements in strength compared to studies using lighter resistance. Strength training was more effective in individuals reporting a good health status versus poor and was more advantageous in those with no functional limitations.”
W.E. Amonette, Kirk L. English, W.J. Kraemer, Evidence-Based Practice in Exercise Science: The Six-Step Approach, Human Kinetics Publishers, 2016
Just 2 studies among an inundation of evidence:
Effects of elastic band resistance training and nutritional supplementation on physical performance of institutionalised elderly--A randomized controlled trial
“Six months of a low intensity resistance exercise using elastic bands and own body weight is safe and beneficial in improving functional performance of institutionalised older people. Multi-nutrient supplementation did not offer additional benefits to the effects of resistance training in improving muscular performance.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26341720
Effects of core instability strength training on trunk muscle strength, spinal mobility, dynamic balance and functional mobility in older adults
“Core instability strength training (CIT) proved to be a feasible exercise program for seniors with a high adherence rate. Age-related deficits in measures of trunk muscle strength, spinal mobility, dynamic balance and functional mobility can be mitigated by CIT. This training regimen could be used as an adjunct or even alternative to traditional balance and/or resistance training.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23108436