By the year 2030 it is estimated that 1 in every 5 Americans will be of retirement age. This stat is stunning and will have a large impact on our country’s economic future as we look to care for these aging adults. Much has been written on our medical system’s ability to extend the lifespan (quantity), but we have had a smaller impact on extending the quality of life for those in our oldest age groups. Increased dependency and assistive living options face many of these aging adults, especially those affected by chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and metabolic syndromes. Although not a silver bullet exercise has been shown to improve strength, fall risk, and function within this age group. A recent study demonstrates the impact of exercise in patients over 90 years of age.
Serra-Rexach and colleagues studied the impact of strength training on 40 participants aged 90-97 (J Am Geriatric Soc. 2011). Each participant was randomized to either an 8 week light to moderate strength training group (30-70% of 1 repetition max) or a control group. Authors assessed strength, walking speed, functional strength, and recorded the number of falls in each participant. Trained participants demonstrated increased strength and reduced falls compared to their sedentary peers. This study highlights the importance of daily exercise even in our oldest populations. Kudos to the authors for studying this population of participants instead of usual 18-65 y.o. groups.