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Article
June 13, 1990

High-Intensity Strength Training in NonagenariansEffects on Skeletal Muscle

Author Affiliations

From the US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (Drs Fiatarone, Meredith, and Evans); the Division on Aging, Harvard Medical School (Drs Fiatarone and Lipsitz); Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged (Drs Fiatarone and Lipsitz and Mss Marks and Ryan); and the Department of Medicine, Beth Israel and Brigham and Women's Hospitals (Drs Fiatarone and Lipsitz), Boston, Mass. Dr Meredith is now with the Division of Clinical Nutrition, University of California School of Medicine, Davis; Ms Marks is now with the Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh (Pa).

From the US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (Drs Fiatarone, Meredith, and Evans); the Division on Aging, Harvard Medical School (Drs Fiatarone and Lipsitz); Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged (Drs Fiatarone and Lipsitz and Mss Marks and Ryan); and the Department of Medicine, Beth Israel and Brigham and Women's Hospitals (Drs Fiatarone and Lipsitz), Boston, Mass. Dr Meredith is now with the Division of Clinical Nutrition, University of California School of Medicine, Davis; Ms Marks is now with the Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh (Pa).

JAMA. 1990;263(22):3029-3034. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440220053029
Abstract

Muscle dysfunction and associated mobility impairment, common among the frail elderly, increase the risk of falls, fractures, and functional dependency. We sought to characterize the muscle weakness of the very old and its reversibility through strength training. Ten frail, institutionalized volunteers aged 90 ± 1 years undertook 8 weeks of high-intensity resistance training. Initially, quadriceps strength was correlated negatively with walking time (r= -.745). Fat-free mass (r=.732) and regional muscle mass (r=.752) were correlated positively with muscle strength. Strength gains averaged 174% ±31% (mean ± SEM) in the 9 subjects who completed training. Midthigh muscle area increased 9.0%± 4.5%. Mean tandem gait speed improved 48% after training. We conclude that high-resistance weight training leads to significant gains in muscle strength, size, and functional mobility among frail residents of nursing homes up to 96 years of age.

(JAMA. 1990;263:3029-3034)

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