Resistance exercise: good for more than just Grandma and Grandpa’s muscles
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Progressive resistance training promotes strength gains in both the young and the aged. Importantly, gains in strength in aged persons are, with the appropriate duration, intensity, and progression, not simply due to neuromuscular mechanisms, but also encompass muscle fibre hypertrophy. Critically, the resistance exercise-induced changes in aged skeletal muscle are associated with numerous health benefits, the most obvious of which are the gains in strength and, with the correct training program, power; as a result, functional independence is improved and the risk for falls is apparently reduced. Aside from the well-documented effects of resistance training on strength and power, a body of research is now beginning to emerge that shows resistance exercise also promotes metabolic health. This is crucial information, since it effectively highlights an underappreciated aspect of resistance exercise. Specifically, resistance exercise not only promotes strength gains, but also reduces risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The benefits of resistance exercise do not end at metabolic health, however, and "spill over" into many other realms. In fact, resistance exercise programs have been shown to reduce participants' use of the health care system. Viewed collectively, the multiple benefits of resistance exercise represent an attractive option for our aging population to enhance and maintain their health from a number of perspectives that are not achievable through pharmacological intervention or with solely aerobic-based exercise.
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