As you age you gain wisdom, experience and responsibility. Unfortunately, you could simultaneously be losing muscle mass, strength and balance. While having plenty of knowledge is extremely valuable, it won’t help decrease the risk of falls or other aging-related injuries. Partaking in a regular exercise and balance training regimen can help an older adult build the necessary skills to maintain a healthy body throughout the aging process. But the question is, how many older adults are willing to commit to and comply with such a program?
Strength and balance training for older adults
Last year, Lacroix and colleagues set out to study “the impact of a twelve week balance and strength training program followed by twelve weeks of detraining on measures of balance and muscle power in healthy older adults” (2015). Adding another dimension to the study, they gave the subjects different supervision guidelines to measure the compliance rates in each setting.
Sixty-six older adults were chosen for this study and randomly assigned to one of three groups:
- Supervised group
- Unsupervised group
- Passive control group
Each participant was tested before and after the active training phase, and again after detraining for:
- Static and dynamic balance
- Proactive and reactive balance
- Lower extremity muscle power
Age gracefully (literally)
Lacroix and colleagues yielded impressive results from this twelve-week balance and strength-training program:
- Each group had a significant compliance rate:
- 92% for the supervised group
- 97% for the unsupervised group
- Significant training-related improvements for static steady-state, proactive balance, lower extremity muscle power and stride velocity in the supervised group
- Boosted performances in thirteen variables for the supervised group and in ten variables for the unsupervised group after detraining
“Twelve weeks of balance and strength training proved to be safe and feasible,” noted Lacroix et al. (2015). “Deficits of balance and lower extremity muscle power can be mitigated by balance and strength training in healthy older adults. Additionally, supervised as compared to unsupervised balance and strength training was more effective. Thus, it is recommended to counteract intrinsic fall risk factors by applying supervised balance and strength training programs for older adults.”
Lacroix A et al 2015. Effects of a Supervised versus an Unsupervised Combined Balance and Strength Training Program on Balance and Muscle Power in Healthy Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Gerontology. 2016;62(3):275-88.