Exercises for the Elderly

Exercises for Seniors

Weight Loss Exercises, Exercises for the Elderly, a lecture by Dr. Bill Westcott, explains strength training benefits to John Knox Village residents. He is a fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, and co-author of the new books “Strength Training Past 50” and “Strength Training for Seniors.”

This is a reprint of his Exercises for Seniors lecture.

Introduction – exercises for the elderly

During the past decade, several studies have established that strength training is a safe and beneficial activity for adults of all ages (Fiatarone et al., 1990; Butts & Price, 1994; Campbell et al., 1994; Pratley et al., 1994; Westcott & Guy, 1996).

The basic studies showed that Weight Loss Exercises geared towards building strength are effective for increasing muscle strength and size in senior men (Frontera et al., 1988), senior women (Nelson et al., 1994), and even nursing home residents (Fiatarone et al., 1994).

Other research, much of which was conducted with senior subjects, revealed that Weight Loss Exercises for Seniors reduced resting blood pressure (Harris & Holly, 1987), improved blood lipid profiles (Stone et al., 1982), increased gastrointestinal transit speed (Koffler et al., 1992), enhanced glucose utilization (Hurley, 1994), alleviated low back pain (Risch et al., 1993), increased bone mineral density (Menkes et al., 1993), eased arthritic discomfort (Tufts, 1994), relieved depression (Singh et al., 1997), and improved postcoronary performance (Stewart et al., 1988).

None of these studies reported any training related injuries, and a large scale project with more than 1,100 participants reported that 95 percent of the adults and seniors continued to strength train after completing the program (Westcott & Guy, 1996).

Based partly on the success of these studies, we designed a strength training protocol for elderly nursing home residents who were essentially non-ambulatory. Our research objectives were to determine how a 5_station training program would affect the patients’ body composition, muscle strength, joint flexibility, and functional ability.

Subjects – Exercises for Seniors

We started the study with 27 physician referred patients (18 women, 9 men) who resided at the John Knox Village Campus (which includes the Med Center, Assisted Living, and Independent Living facilities) in Orange City, Florida.

Nineteen subjects (14 women, 5 men) completed the 14_week strength training program. Two residents passed away during the course of the study, four encountered illnesses that prevented them from training, and two discontinued the program for personal reasons.

On average, the subjects were 88.5 years of age, 63.7 inches in height, and 130.0 pounds in weight. However, the men were considerably taller (66.9 inches to 62.6 inches) and heavier (164.7 pounds to 117.7 pounds) than the women.

Results – Exercises for the Elderly

The results of the exercises for seniors were impressive…each person that finished improved body composition and increased muscle strength. Joint flexibility was largely unchanged to slightly improved.

This is very encouraging news. Finally, proof that exercise is beneficial no matter what your age!