Loss of muscle mass and strength is directly related to aging—and to the reduction in mobility and the capacity to perform the activities regarded as basic or instrumental for daily life.

The good news is research shows older adults’ muscular power can improve after just 12 weeks’ training with weights. Such training can be “highly effective” for improving functional capacity and quality of life, investigators say.

The studies were carried out by researchers at the UPNA-Public University of Navarre in Spain, and universities in Portugal and Brazil.

The results of the studies confirm the hypotheses raised in recent decades by various researchers regarding the capacity of power training to prevent or reduce loss of strength and physical function in older people.

“It has been established how people between 60 and 70 years of age who participated in a four-month training program to develop muscular strength and mass regained the functional capacity and muscle power of 20 years previously,” said investigator and professor Mikel Izquierdo-Redin in a press release. “In other words, they were the same as their peers who started the same training program at the age of 40,” he said.

In his view, there are two good reasons why we should encourage people to undertake regular physical exercise from the age of 50 onward: “Firstly, because it is a cornerstone in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases; and secondly, because it plays a crucial role in preventing and treating the decline in functional capacity, which tends to emerge in a highly significant way at this age.”

In this respect, said Izquierdo-Redin, physical exercise would be a plausible measure for improving the functional capacity of older people and for reducing healthcare expenditure.

The results of these pieces of research were published in two articles in the scientific journal Experimental Gerontology: “Effects of high-speed power training on functional capacity and muscle performance in older women” and “Strength prior to endurance intra-session exercise sequence optimizes neuromuscular and cardiovascular gains in elderly men.”

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