Older adults face a wide range of possible health problems. Strength training was believed to come with a series of benefits which were not necessarily associated with an increased life expectancy. But one of the largest US-based studies on aging adults showed just how beneficial strength training can be for those above 65.
Physical activity and its possible benefits was studied before. Older adults were often subject to investigation. These investigations often included cardiovascular benefits, improved mobility or even benefits in the areas of diabetes and life expectancy. But studies have not been done on strength training alone.
A large-scale study shows benefits of strength training
Older adults were monitored in a period between 1997 and 2001. All the information gathered during this period by Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center showed the true role of strength training, even with just two workouts every week.
The study[i] collected data in all 50 US states and from over 30.000 adults aged 65 and over. It was in this group that the research found 9% of these adults were actually strength training twice per week. These respondents were then part of the research. Following their official data reports and the monitoring of registered death certificate in 2011, the study found that around a third of this group has died up to that point.
In figures, the study concluded that those whom strength trained twice per week had 46% lower odds of death for any reason compared to those who did not strength train. Other health benefits were concluded as well. They include a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
A profile of the average adult strength trainer was contoured as well. A person, with higher education and a normal body weight with reduced or no consumption of alcohol and tobacco products.
The role of the research
With this concluded information, the research shows the extended benefits of strength training. While this type of training was typically associated with strength gain and improved physical functions, the study comes to show that even life expectancy can be improved. The weight of the adults was also closer to healthy levels and this comes in contrast to the typical recommendations which were mainly targeting forms of aerobic exercise.
Researchers also concluded that only a small percentage of the surveyed adults actually weight trained. But even in these conditions, the 9% group whom weight trained twice per week was slightly larger than what the researchers initially expected.
But the study goes even further. It recommends more attention in getting older adults to strength train. Finding new methods to increase the 9% number who already do this can be the way to go from the researchers' perspective. The nationally-representative sample of the study goes to show the benefits of strength training can be recommended with aerobic training as well. Previous studies showed that physically active older adults have a better quality of life and current data shows that strength training also helps them live longer. Some of the most recommended products for strength training beyond 65 include a protein supplement
[i] J. Kraschenwski, C. Sciamanna, J. Poget et al. (2016), Is strength training associated with mortality benefits? A 15 year cohort study of US older adults, Preventive Medicine Journal. Available at: