story to find out more.
volunteer's muscle strength are exercise physiologist Jennifer Layne (middle),
director of the Strong Living Program, along with Charlotte Mallio, program
coordinator. Click the image for more information about it.
For information on physical activity, visit
Strength Training Is an Antidote to Muscle
Loss By Rosalie
Marion Bliss May 3, 2005
Resistance or "strength" training has repeatedly been shown to be a
safe and effective method of reversing sarcopenia, or muscle loss, in the
elderly. The condition actually starts around age 45, when muscle mass begins
to decline at a rate of about 1 percent per year. Scientists funded by the
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have
been studying the factors involved in gradual muscle loss since 1988.
The work is conducted at the Jean Mayer USDA
Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts
University in Boston, Mass.
Castaneda Sceppa, a physician specializing in nutrition, led the research
at the HNRCA's Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, and Sarcopenia Laboratory (NEPS).
While older adults need strength training to maintain their muscle
mass, exercise can also help reduce the risk and symptoms of many chronic
diseases, such as arthritis, coronary artery disease, diabetes, frailty,
obesity and osteoporosis.
Exercise is by definition different from moderate physical activity.
Actual exercise--by design--improves the five key components of physical
fitness: muscle strength, muscle endurance, body composition,
cardio-respiratory endurance and flexibility.
The findings show that in a group of volunteers with osteoarthritis, a
joint disease, muscle strength increased by 14 percent and balance improved by
55 percent after a 12-week strength-training program. Flexibility also improved
by 17 percent, and pain, based on self reports, decreased by 30 percent.
In another group of volunteers, with chronic kidney disease and on
low-protein diets, total muscle fiber increased by 32 percent, and muscle
strength increased by 30 percent after 12 weeks of strength training. Those who
did not exercise lost about 9 pounds, or 3 percent of their body weight.
Instruction by a trained individual is important for strength-training
older adults, according to HNRCA senior exercise physiologist Jennifer Layne,
who started a grass-roots exercise initiative for older adults inspired by NEPS
about the research in the May 2005 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is USDA's chief in-house
scientific research agency.