Trainability for strength

A research study from the United States discovered  that older people with weak muscles were more likely to suffer dementia-related illnesses. Seniors with less physical strength suffer more than seniors with muscular strength from Alzheimer’s desease according to the study. The researchers / scientists at the Rusch Univ. Medical Center Chicago examined 970 sane / mentally fit people with an average age of 80.3 years over a period of three and a half years. Neurological and psychological tests were carried out to see if any symptoms or indication of dementia were apparent. Physical strength was also measured. The results of the study showed that those who were considerably physically weaker became ill from dementia during the time of the research, which equated to 14.2% of the participants. The scientists believe that damage to the mitocohondrion is responsible for mental as well as physical decline / degeneration.

As already discussed, strength decreases in old age and in parallel, bone density reduces by about 1% / year from the age of 30. However, at this stage of life, strength can be trained (see study by Fiaterone et al. 1990).

Average muscle mass reduces from 36kg for a young person to 23 kg for a 70 year-old 
 (Steinbach 1972, 638; Bringmann 1977, 662).

Retaining musculature, particularly the leg muscles, is decisive for lifelong independence and mobility, which in turn encourages social activities and plays a major part in everyday challenges (climbing steps, going shopping, cleaning, etc.) (c.f. Brill et al. 2000, 414). Mobility also has a great effect on physical well being and mental capabilities.

“When walking is no longer possible it all goes downhill” (Lehr 1991, 230).

The speed of locomotion of a person depends on strength and coordination and underlies the earliest and most marked decline in old age.

Please note that when weight training with older people, only those exercises should be carried out that do not require any forced respiration during expulsion (as is often carried out when lifting heavy dumbbells, for example), as these increase pressure inside the chest! The focus should be on training strength endurance (10-15 reps. per exercise / 1-3 sets) and should mainly be carried out dynamically. According to Hollmann and Hettinger dynamic weight training slows down changes in the major joints and osteoporosis that may emerge in old age.