Weight training improves walking endurance in healthy elderly persons

Ann Intern Med. 1996 Mar 15;124(6):568-72. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-124-6-199603150-00005.


Objective: To determine the effect of a resistance-training program on walking endurance in a healthy, community-dwelling elderly population.

Design: 12- week randomized, controlled trial comparing a resistance- training group with a nonexercising control group.

Setting: Hospital-affiliated outpatient exercise facility.

Patients: 24 healthy men and women who were 65 years of age or older (mean age +/-SD, 70.4 +/- 4 years; range, 65 to 79 years).

Measurements: The primary outcome variable was exhaustive submaximal walking time measured at an intensity of 80% of baseline peak aerobic capacity.

Results: Participants in the resistance-training program increased submaximal walking endurance by 9 minutes (from 25 +/- 4 minutes to 34 +/- 9 minutes; P=0.001), a 38% increase, whereas no change was seen in controls (20 +/- 5 minutes to 19 +/- 10 minutes; P greater than 0.2; P=0.005 between groups). The relation between change in leg strength and change in walking endurance was significant (r=0.48; P=0.02). Neither group showed a change in peak aerobic capacity or in whole-body composition, although fat-free mass of the leg increased in the exercise group.

Conclusions: Resistance training for 3 months improves both leg strength and walking endurance in healthy, community-dwelling elderly persons. This finding is relevant to older persons at risk for disability, because walking endurance and leg strength are important components of physical functioning.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology
  • Male
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Sex Factors
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Weight Lifting*