Volume of exercise is a factor
The amount of exercise undertaken by older adults, even if modest, has an effect on muscle strength and muscle endurance, according to a study published in a recent issue of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Exercise scientists have struggled for decades to determine the appropriate volume (amount, or number of repetitions), frequency (the number of sessions over a period of time), and intensity (load, or difficulty) of exercise for various age groups, but have seldom been able to agree on a protocol for seniors. In the current study, 28 men and women between the ages of 65 and 78 were assigned to either a group that performed a single set (a series of consecutive repetitions) of seven exercises or to one that completed three sets of the same seven exercises. Both groups participated in upper and lower body resistance training twice a week for 20 weeks. At the end of the training period, the group that performed single-set exercises showed a significant increase in muscle strength and endurance. Not surprisingly, those in the three-set group showed greater gains in both categories. The researchers concluded that the volume of exercise is directly related to muscle strength and endurance gains in older adults and that relatively modest resistance training (doing as little as a single set of a particular exercise) can have a positive effect on both variables. This is particularly important, according to the authors, because shorter exercise protocols would be beneficial in situations where a large number of older individuals have to exercise with limited equipment.
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