A preliminary study from China examines how resistance training exercises for seniors can be a beneficial program in long-term care facilities.
Living a sedentary lifestyle as a senior can be detrimental to an individual’s quality of life later on. There is a myriad of exercise programs for seniors and one study, in particular, seeks to combat sarcopenic obesity, a common health risk associated with aging that includes both a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in fat mass. Decreased muscle mass and increased fat mass can lead to even further health complications as seniors age, but resistance training exercises for seniors has been suggested to decrease these health risks.
This study, recently published in BMC Geriatrics, listed the criteria for selecting participants for this exercise program as those aged 60 years or older with no age-appropriate exercise limitations from physicians, and who lived in a long-term care facility for at least three months. Out of the 70 respondents selected, 64 completed the three-month exercise program between October 2015 and March 2016. This regimen included a warm-up session, full body strength exercises that can be completed in a chair, and a cool down stretch. This is compared with the control group which received only the usual long-term care that did not include programmed exercise.
The study showed that while there was no significant difference between the groups in terms of body fat and skeletal muscle growth percentages, grip strength and pinch strength were both significantly improved in those who participated in the strength training. Grip strength and pinch strength are important metrics that lead to increases self-care amongst seniors, especially for the activity of dressing oneself.
As with all research, there were some limitations of this study. This study excluded bedridden or severely ill subjects, which could affect the external validity of the results. Also, the instrumentation used for body composition could be marginally improved by utilizing a DEXA scan instead of the bioelectrical impedance analysis that used in this study.
However, the findings conclusively showed that twice a week strength training was feasible for long-term care seniors with sarcopenic obesity. This training further encourages self-care ability by promoting leaner muscle mass and increasing grip strength to provide seniors better autonomy in the later years of their lives. Providing exercises for seniors may be an important addition to long-term care.
Written by Cooper Powers, BSc
Reference: Chang, S.F., Chiu, S.C., Yang, R.J., Yang, R.S. (2018).
Effects of resistance training on body composition and functional capacity among sarcopenic obese residents in long- term care facilities: a preliminary study. BMC Geriatrics, 18(21). DOI 10.1186/s12877-018-0714-6