Weight Training: Not Just for Young Men
“weight training” are likely to conjure up images of young
hardbodies, flexing muscles and pumping iron to build up strength and
body tone. But a recent survey reveals the benefits of weight training
in improving men’s strength can be felt whether you’re 25
Men over 60
may be able to increase their strength by as much as 80 percent by
performing intense weight training exercise, according to researchers
at Ohio University. Moreover, older men gain strength at the same rate
as younger men, the physiologists found.
In a study of
18 men ages 60 to 75, Ohio University physiologists found that
individuals who participated in a 16-week, high-intensity resistance
training program were 50 percent to 80 percent stronger, on average, by
the end of the study. None of the participants had engaged in weight
lifting prior to the study.
also were seen in seniors’ muscle tone, aerobic capacity and
cholesterol profile, according to the results, which were published in
the Journal of Gerontology.
findings mark the latest discoveries from a decades-long look at the
impact of exercise on the health of men and women of all ages. When
researchers compared the strength gains of the elderly participants in
this study to findings from other studies they’ve done of
college-age men, they found changes in strength and muscle size were
similar in both age groups.
have been a number of research projects that have come out over the
years that suggest there is no age limitation to getting stronger from
resistance training,” said Robert Staron, co-author of the study
and an associate professor of anatomy at Ohio University’s
College of Osteopathic Medicine. “It’s become obvious that
it’s important to maintain a certain amount of muscle mass as we
study also suggests elderly men can handle heavy workloads over a long
period of time. Participants — who were all in good health and
monitored closely during testing and training — performed leg
presses, half-squats and leg extensions twice a week to exercise the
lower body. When the men began the study, they were able to leg-press
about 375 pounds on average. After the 16-week period, they could take
on about 600 pounds.
to the increase in strength, researchers found weight lifting had a
beneficial impact on the participants’ cardiovascular system.
Tests on an exercise treadmill showed their bodies used oxygen more
efficiently after weight training.
individuals run until they are completely exhausted, and it took longer
for them to reach that point after resistance training,” Staron
taken before and after weight training also showed favorable changes in
participants’ overall cholesterol profiles, he said, including
increases in HDL cholesterol levels and decreases in LDL cholesterol
tone and strength is not uncommon for many senior citizens, Staron
said, but this research suggests a lack of physical exercise can
contribute to the problem.
inactivity does play a role in contributing to the decrease in muscle
mass,” Staron said. “If we can maintain a certain level of
strength through exercise, our quality of life should be better as we
beginning a weight-lifting regimen, it’s a good idea to consult a
physician, Staron advised, adding that it’s also important to
learn proper weight-lifting techniques.
on the project with Staron were Fredrick Hagerman, Robert Hikida and
Thomas Murray of the College of Osteopathic Medicine; former graduate
student Seamus Walsh; Roger Gilders of the College of Health and Human
Services; Kumika Toma of the College of Arts and Sciences; and Kerry
Ragg of the Student Health Service. Staron and his colleagues now have
turned their attention to how certain weight-lifting routines impact