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May Newsletter: Resistance exercise and sarcopenia 1!

In the previous newsletter we looked at the effect of aging on skeletal muscles and sarcopenia. One of the key recommendations for the prevention of sarcopenia is regular exercise, resistance training in particular, which we will introduce in this newsletter.


Fit For Life therapists have been delivering resistance training to Older Adults for >20 years. Do you know that we started out by delivering strength classes using resistance bands at Nursing Homes and Daycare Centres and have developed our evidence based services continuously since?!

Exercise for sarcopenia

Neither reduced muscle demand nor the subsequent loss of muscle function is inevitable with aging. These losses can be minimized or even reversed with training. Endurance training can improve the aerobic capacity of muscle, and resistance training can improve central nervous system recruitment of muscle and increase muscle mass, strength and function. Research indicates that higher physical activity and lower sedentary behaviour are associated with greater skeletal muscle strength and muscle power (Ramsey et al, 2021​). Therefore, regular physical activity throughout life is encouraged to prevent much of the age-related impact on skeletal muscle.


Benefits of resistance training

Resistance training aims to increase muscle strength, mass, endurance and/or tone. During isotonic resistance training your skeletal muscle contracts against an opposing force and the muscle shortens and lengthens e.g. an external resistance is used to overload muscles (band, dumbbell etc) or gravity for bodyweight exercises.

During isometric resistance training, you contract your muscle without moving it. Isometrics are great for the very frail or deconditioned and are often a starting point in a rehabilitation program after injury or surgery. Research indicates isometric exercise provides exercise-induced hypoalgesia, so you can perform resistance exercise with less painful side effects and that it may improve function and muscle mass (Topp et al, 2002; Sorour et al, 2014; Eun Kyung Lee et al, 2018).


What are the benefits of resistance training other than getting stronger?

- Reduce pain (Sorour et al, 2014)​

- Combat hypertension (Gordon et al, 2018; Deka et al, 2021; Schimitt et al, 2020​)

- Improve the working memory, immediate and short-term memory of older adults (Wu et al, 2021; Marston et al, 2019; Zhang et al, 2021)

- Improves sleep efficiency and decreases sleep fragmentation in older adults (Li et al, 2021; Herrick et al, 2014)

- Induces improvement in insulin sensitivity for elderly (Jiajin et al, 2021) ​

- Can abate the progression of diabetic distal symmetrical polyneuropathy in older adults (Gholami et al, 2021)​

- Reduces chronic inflammation (Sardeli et al, 2018) ​

- Enhancing the skeletal muscle cellular antioxidant capacity (Parise et al, 2005)


Happy to help!

We have >20 years’ experience delivering strength training and exercise for Older Adults! Check out our website for information on 1-1 and group fitness interventions www.fitforlife.ie/. And, don’t hesitate to contact one of our exercise and rehabilitation specialists or physiotherapists at info@fitforlife.ie or 01-2137915 if you have any questions!


Patricia O'Donnell GSR CAT BSc MSc

Fit For Life Ltd. 2022

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