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Research and Finding of Exercise Designed for the Older Adult

"Researchers examined the histochemical and mechanical changes that occur in skeletal muscle with aging, as well as their relationship to frequency of falls and reduced ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs). Most of these have shown that age-related muscle atrophy is selective for the faster-contracting (Type II) muscle fibers and that the motor-unit restructuring associated with aging favors the slower (Type I) fibers. These histochemical changes are especially important in light of their functional correlations the fall incidence and ADL ability reductions."

"Aniansson et al found that hip-fracture patients showed a large reduction in muscle cross-sectional area, especially in Type II fibers. Whipple et al...reported that the greatest differences between fallers and non-fallers were seen at the higher speeds of contraction, especially when power (rate of work) was the variable used in the analysis."

"It is the speed at which a person can move, not merely locomotion, that is most highly correlated with independence." "The theoretical basis of our high-speed (HS) training prescription was research showing that increases in strength at specific speeds of contraction are dictated by the speed of training. This research shows that higher contractile speeds during training produce greater improvements in strength at higher velocities of movement and confirms the need for HS training in the development of power. An additional benefit HS training is its superior effect on motor performance."

"The HS group produced superior gains in the torque and power (P<0.05) and power (P<0.02) at all speeds, and especially at the speeds of contraction. Knee flexion data also showed the superiority of HS training. Average power was superior for HS group at all testing speeds, as was peak torque...with HS group producing superior improvements, especially at higher contractile speeds...The HS group was superior in maintaining balance during dynamic posturography."

"Data indicate the importance of incorporating the speed-specific strategies used in athletics in training prescriptions our aging population."

"Exercise is preventative medicine and should be treated as such."

"The incorporation of training is, therefore, an integral part of any health program that concentrates on healthy, successful aging. Sport-specific training is simply a recognition that ADLs are dependent on our ability to perform."

Source: Rehab Management - December/January 1997 - By Joseph F. Signorile, PhD

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