Resistance Training the Aging Adult and Injury Prevention
There are few treatments more effective for the prevention and treatment of injuries and musculoskeletal conditions than resistance training. Unfortunately, many Americans are not performing enough strengthening to prevent the loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) which begins to occur in the 3rd decade of life. After age 30 we begin to demonstrate a progressive loss of muscle mass, strength, and endurance due to the aging process. Thankfully, this loss can be attenuated with strength training, but not solely aerobic and endurance training (Klitgaard et al. 1990). This loss of strength becomes a risk factor for many health conditions including low back pain and knee osteoarthritis.
It is important to note age does not seem to influence an individuals ability to perform strength training exercise. A review article reported an average strength increase of 25-33% in older adults who began a strength training program (Peterson et al. 2010). Participants performed 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions per exercise targeting major muscle groups 2 to 3 days per week. These programs have also been shown to improve an adult's quality of life and prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, knee osteoarthritis and back pain.
It is never too late to begin an exercise program and adults are encourage to speak with a local Physical Therapist to design a safe and effective exercise program to improve their quality of life and athletic performance.