When it comes to singling out which form of exercise does the most for seniors, progressive resistance strength training (not as complex as it sounds) just zoomed to the top of the list. According to a Cochrane Review for which researchers evaluated 121 studies involving a total of over 6,700 participants 60 and over, this type of strength training helped adults get stronger and, in turn, better able to perform daily living activities—the barometer of senior health. Progressive resistance simply means increasing the weight or tension of the equipment used—resistance bands, free weights or weight training machines, for example—as the participant gets stronger. “Older adults seem to benefit from this type of exercise even at the age of 80, and even with some type of health condition. The data support the idea that muscle strength is largely improved after the training, and the impact on older adults’ daily activities can be significant. Simply having enough strength to do things such as carrying groceries would make a difference for seniors,” says lead researcher Chiung-ju Liu of the Department of Occupational Therapy at the Indiana University at Indianapolis. “We recommend older adults work with a health professional or an exercise professional to do progressive resistance strength training.” This ensures that they are using proper form, increasing the resistance properly and getting the maximum benefits. All this isn’t to say walking, dancing and gardening, just to name a few, aren’t good. They are. The point is that strength training makes these and all other activities more effective, more enjoyable, more possible.
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