Seniors, lifting weights more often can keep you fit

Pumping iron is good for seniors, but new research reveals that if you're over 60, you may have to work a little harder at the gym than a younger person to maintain your muscle mass.

In a 48-week study of 70 adults, researchers report that men and women over the age of 60 have to lift weights more often than younger people to maintain muscle mass and muscle size.

"Our data are the first to suggest that older adults require greater weekly maintenance dosing than younger individuals to maintain resistance-training-induced increases in muscle mass," study co-researcher and physiologist Marcas Bamman, PhD, of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, said in a press release.

How often do you need to train? One day a week minimum, but more is recommended, Bamman added. "We are not advocating that people only train one day a week indefinitely, but we do believe such a program can be effective during temporary periods when it is difficult to maintain a consistent, intensive exercise regimen several days per week."

Announced last week, the study, sponsored by the US-based National Institute on Aging, is published in the current issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Prior research has revealed huge gains for senior men and women, even in their 90s, from weightlifting. One study found that seniors aged 87 to 96 improved their muscle strength by almost 180 percent after eight weeks of weightlifting. Another study on seniors ages 65 to 79 found that subjects walked 40 percent farther without resting after 12 weeks of weight training.

Other benefits noted by the researchers include better fatty acid metabolism and improved bone and joint health.

Access the study: http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2011/07000/Exercise_Dosing_to_Retain_Resistance_Training.7.aspx

Tips on weightlifting for seniors: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnIZpJcqb_0

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