Objective: To determine the short- and long-term effects of resistance training on muscle strength, psychological well-being, control-beliefs, cognitive speed and memory in normally active elderly people.
Methods: 46 elderly people (mean age 73.2 years; 18 women and 28 men), were randomly assigned to training and control groups (n=23 each). Pre- and post-tests were administered 1 week before and 1 week after the 8-week training intervention. The training sessions, performed once a week, consisted of a 10 min warm-up phase and eight resistance exercises on machines.
Results: There was a significant increase in maximum dynamic strength in the training group. This training effect was associated with a significant decrease in self-attentiveness, which is known to enhance psychological well-being. No significant changes could be observed in control-beliefs. Modest effects on cognitive functioning occurred with the training procedure: although there were no changes in cognitive speed, significant pre/post-changes could be shown in free recall and recognition in the experimental group. A post-test comparison between the experimental group and control group showed a weak effect for recognition but no significant differences in free recall. Significant long-term effects were found in the training group for muscular strength and memory performance (free recall) 1 year later.
Conclusion: An 8-week programme of resistance training lessens anxiety and self-attentiveness and improves muscle strength.