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Older adults who meet twice in a week for strength training can boost their stamina and live longer, thus lowering the odds of cardiac death and cancer, finds a study. The findings showed that older adults who trained for strength at least twice a week had 46 percent lower odds of dying soon. They also had 41 percent lower odds of cardiac death and 19 percent lower odds of dying from cancer.
But although the health rewards of physical activity and aerobic exercise are well established, less data have been collected on strength training. This doesn't mean that strength training wasn't a part of what people had been doing for a long time as exercise, but it wasn't until recently that it was solidified in this way as a recommendation, said Jennifer L. Kraschnewski from Penn State College of Medicine in the US. Over the past decade, researchers have demonstrated benefits of strength training for strength, muscle mass and physical function, as well as for improvements in chronic conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, low back pain and obesity.
Researchers examined data of more than 30,000 adults of age 65 and older from the 1997-2001 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) linked to death certificate data through 2011. Researchers published their results in Preventive Medicine. During the survey period, more than 9 percent of older adults reported strength training at least twice a week.
They were also more likely to have normal body weight, to engage in aerobic exercise and to abstain from alcohol and tobacco. After the researchers controlled for physical activity level, people who reported strength exercises appeared to see a greater mortality benefit than those who reported physical activity alone. The study is strong evidence that strength training in older adults is beneficial beyond improving muscle strength and physical function, the researchers said. We need to identify more ways that we can help get people engaged in strength training so we can increase the number from just under 10 percent to a much higher percentage of our older adults who are engaged in these activities, Kraschnewski said.
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