Background: Aging is associated with reduced muscle mass and strength leading to impaired physical function. Resistance training programs incorporated into older adults' real-life settings may have the potential to counteract these changes. We evaluated the effectiveness of 8 months resistance training using easily available, low cost equipment compared to physical activity counselling on physical function, muscle strength, and body composition in community-dwelling older adults receiving home care.
Methods: This open label, two-armed, parallel group, cluster randomized trial recruited older adults above 70 years (median age 86.0 (Interquartile range 80-90) years) receiving home care. Participants were randomized at cluster level to the resistance training group (RTG) or the control group (CG). The RTG trained twice a week while the CG were informed about the national recommendations for physical activity and received a motivational talk every 6th week. Outcomes were assessed at participant level at baseline, after four, and 8 months and included tests of physical function (chair rise, 8 ft-up-and-go, preferred- and maximal gait speed, and stair climb), maximal strength, rate of force development, and body composition.
Results: Twelve clusters were allocated to RTG (7 clusters, 60 participants) or CG (5 clusters, 44 participants). The number of participants analyzed was 56-64 (6-7 clusters) in RTG and 20-42 (5 clusters) in CG. After 8 months, multilevel linear mixed models showed that RTG improved in all tests of physical function and maximal leg strength (9-24%, p = 0.01-0.03) compared to CG. No effects were seen for rate of force development or body composition.
Conclusion: This study show that resistance training using easily available, low cost equipment is more effective than physical activity counselling for improving physical function and maximal strength in community-dwelling older adults receiving home care.
Trial registration: ISRCTN1067873.
Keywords: Elastic band; Elderly; Functional mobility; Home-based exercise; Independent living; Strength training.
© The Author(s) 2020.