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Weight Training Improves Walking Endurance in Healthy Elderly Persons

Philip A. Ades, MD; Douglas L. Ballor, PhD; Taka Ashikaga, PhD; Jody L. Utton, BS; and K. Sreekumaran Nair, MD, PhD
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From the University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont, and the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. Grant Support: In part by grants R01-AG09531-01A2 and AR1964 from the National Institutes of Health and grant RR209 from the General Clinical Research Centers. Requests for Reprints: Philip A. Ades, MD, McClure 1, Cardiology, Medical Center Hospital of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05401. Current Author Addresses: Dr. Ades: McClure 1, Cardiology, Medical Center Hospital of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05401.

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1996;124(6):568-572. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-124-6-199603150-00005
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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 > 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.


Grahic Jump Location
Figure 1.
Conditioning data in the resistance-training group.

Open symbols indicate values before conditioning; closed symbols indicate values after conditioning.

Grahic Jump Location




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