Strength training is associated with better functional fitness and perceived healthy aging among physically active older adults: a cross-sectional analysis of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2019 Sep;31(9):1257-1263. doi: 10.1007/s40520-018-1079-6. Epub 2018 Nov 27.


Background: Regular participation in strength exercise is important to promote healthy aging. However, much of the available evidence on physical activity and older adults has focused on aerobic activity, while there is less research on the benefits of exercise that is performed specifically to strengthen muscles.

Aims: Using cross-sectional data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, the purpose of this study was to determine if strength training is associated with better functional fitness and health among older adults who meet the minimum guidelines for aerobic physical activity.

Methods: Older adults who met guidelines for aerobic physical activity (≥ 60 years, N = 9100) completed performance-based assessments of physical function and self-reported their physical activity, perceived health, and chronic conditions. Body fat was determined using DEXA. Logistic regression analyses were used to determine whether strength training was associated with better functional fitness, body composition, and health.

Results: 32.5% of active older adults reported engaging in strength training 1-7 days per week. Participating in any strength training was associated with better scores on measures of balance (OR 1.17, CI 1.04, 1.32), mobility (OR 1.32, CI 1.18, 1.47), body fatness (OR 1.58, CI 1.38, 1.81), and better perceived health (OR 1.34, CI 1.19, 1.51), and healthy aging (OR 1.26, CI 1.12, 1.42).

Discussion: These results suggest that all older adults, even those who are active and have good mobility, may benefit from strength training.

Conclusion: Physical activity guidelines should place a greater emphasis on strength training for older adults.

Keywords: Aging; CLSA; Function; Mobility; Resistance training.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Healthy Aging / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Resistance Training / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Report