Long-term strength and balance training in prevention of decline in muscle strength and mobility in older adults

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2020 Jan;32(1):59-66. doi: 10.1007/s40520-019-01155-0. Epub 2019 Mar 4.


Background: Reductions in muscle strength and poor balance may lead to mobility limitations in older age.

Aims: We assessed the effects of long-term once-weekly strength and balance training (SBT) on muscle strength and physical functioning in a community-based sample of older adults.

Methods: 182 individuals [130 women and 52 men, mean age 80 (SD ± 3.9) years] underwent supervised SBT as part of the Geriatric Multidisciplinary Strategy for the Good Care of the Elderly study. Training was offered once a week for 2.3 years. Isometric knee extension and flexion strength, chair rise, maximal walking speed, timed up and go (TUG) and Berg Balance Scale (BBS) were measured at baseline, after 2-year training and at post intervention follow-up. A linear mixed model was used to examine the change in physical functioning over time.

Results: During the intervention, both women (2.5 s, p < 0.001) and men (1.4 s, p = 0.013) improved their chair rise capacity. Women's knee extension and flexion strength improved by 14.1 N (p = 0.003) and 16.3 N (p < 0.001), respectively. Their maximal walking speed also improved by 0.08 m/s (p < 0.001). In men, no changes in muscle strength or walking speed occurred during training or follow-up. No changes in BBS and TUG were observed at the end of the intervention, but decrease in BBS was observed at post-intervention follow-up in men.

Conclusions: In community-dwelling older adults with variety in health and functioning supervised strength and balance training once a week may help to prevent age-related decline in mobility and muscle strength.

Keywords: Balance; Exercise; Geriatric assessment; Intervention; Physical performance; Resistance training.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Walking Speed / physiology*