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Once-a-Week Exercise Helps Elderly Stay Independent

Study says regimen can maintain muscle strength and prevent falls

TUESDAY, May 21, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- It's no surprise that whatever your age, exercise is good for you.

But a new study's results should be encouraging news to older folks: Exercising just once a week may be enough to allow you to stay on your own.

According to researchers from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., older adults need to exercise only one day a week to maintain their muscle strength, allowing them to avoid injuries and remain independent.

Low-volume, high-intensity resistance training can counter the decline in muscle strength and size commonly associated with aging that can lead to falls, say the researchers.

In this study, 10 men all over age 70 did resistance training three days a week for three months. They were then divided into two groups of five men: one that continued the exercise, one that stopped.

Six months later, the five who stopped regular physical activity had a significant decline in muscle size and strength. But those who continued resistance training once a week maintained the strength they'd developed in the initial training session.

The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences.

More information

The National Institute on Aging has more information on how exercising can keep you feel fit for life.

SOURCES: News release, The Gerontological Society of America; April 2002 Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences
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