Strength training is a simple and effective way to counteract muscle loss in elderly patients and reduce the risk of losing independence

Older woman who uses small weights to exercise her arms

Sarcopenia is defined as the loss of skeletal muscle accompanied with a decline in muscle strength and physical performance. Sarcopenia is associated with a decline in quality of life (your general feeling of well-being) and decreasing fitness, balance and gait, and an increased risk of disability, loss of independence, falling, and hospital admissions as well as an increased weakness, fear of falling, and feeling insecure, and dying earlier.

These are the recommendations of the American College of Sport Medicine (ACMS) for resistance exercise in seniors:

·      Stimulate the use of an exercise program that target the muscles in the legs and ankles such as exercises that promote flexibility and strength in the knees and hip. These exercises support the improvement of mobility, balance and gait;

·      Before starting to exercise there should be a 15-20 minutes warming up which including lifting light weights, followed by a cool-down period of 10-15 minutes;

·      The intensity of the exercises should be based on a combination of measurements , such as the individual’s heart rate and use of energy. Be aware that while lifting weight is important, but heavy lifting is to be avoided;

·      Breathing normally is important during strength training, not holding your breath;

·      Exercise all six major muscle groups during the training (i.e. muscles of chest, shoulders, arms, back, abdomen and legs);

·      Repeat each exercise 8-12 times, which makes one set. Repeat the sets preferably 2-3 times per exercise session with 1-2 minutes of rest between each set;

·      Take about 20 - 45 minutes for each exercise session;

·      Exercise 1-3 days per week, for no more than one hour per session and with at least 48 hours between sessions.

LINK TO THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE : Yu L., “The etiology and exercise implications of sarcopenia in the elderly”. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 2015;2:199-203