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IMPROVING FUNCTIONAL FITNESS AND REDUCING RISK OF SARCOPENIA IN OLDER ADULTS.

W. Lynch, UF/IFAS Extension, Putnam County, East Palatka, FL.

Situation: Florida’s 65 and older population is 19.9%[1] and is estimated to reach 32.5% by 2030 [22] ; 23.2% of Putnam[33] County residents are ages 65 or older. Aging is often associated with a decline in muscle mass (sarcopenia). Declining muscle mass “is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults.[44] ” Strength training is “one of the most effective preventive measures to delay the onset of sarcopenia.[55] ” The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend older adults get two or more days per week of strength training. StrongBodies™ is a strength training program designed for older adults, modeled after the StrongWomen™ program from Tuft’s University. The program objective is to improve muscular strength and flexibility in older adults.

Methods: Since 2018, StrongBodies™ has been implemented seven times with a total of 59 participants. The eight-week program targets all muscles groups, flexibility and balance and meets at least twice a week for one-hour sessions. Participants’ muscular strength and flexibility were evaluated using weekly strength tracking charts for eight exercises and a pre and post Senior Fitness Test which includes activities measuring functional movements (bending, lifting, reaching, standing and walking).

Results: 56% (25/45) improved strength in at least five of the eight strength training activities measured; 62% (28/45) improved in at least four, and 76% (34/45) improved in at least three. The pre and post Senior Fitness test was completed by 44 participants. Of these participants, improvements were made in the following tests: Chair stand 66% (27/41), Arm curl 74% (31/42), 6-minute walk test 72% (13/18), Sit and reach 77% (30/39), Back scratch 75% (27/36), 8-ft get up and go (34/41).

Conclusion: StrongBodies™ is an effective strength training program to reduce risk of sarcopenia and improve functional fitness in older adults.

Notes:

      1. 1.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24951975 
        2.  https://acl.gov/sites/default/files/programs/2016-11/Florida%20Epi%20Profile%20Final.pdf
        3.  https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/putnamcountyflorida,US/AGE775218
        4.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4066461/pdf/nihms588910.pdf
        5.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24951975

10 Comments on “IMPROVING FUNCTIONAL FITNESS AND REDUCING RISK OF SARCOPENIA IN OLDER ADULTS.

  1. Wendy– extremely innovating program with encouraging results. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Hi, Liz,

    I haven’t completed a long-term follow up to date; however I’ve been so fortunate to have a majority of the participants consistently reenroll in the 8-week program since 2018. Looking forward to doing some comparison from 2018 (or original start dates) to their most recent participation.

    Thanks so much for your suggestion!
    Wendy L

  3. great links, to support your poster content.

  4. I believe this is critical to the quality of life as we age. You are making a huge difference for these participants

    • LuAnn, thanks so much for your kind words – so appreciated. I have to say, my participants make a difference in my life, too!

  5. Just curious, what is your participants retainment rate after 8 weeks?

    • Hi, Yilin,
      I haven’t completed any long term follow up with the participants post 8-weeks. A majority of the participants re-enroll in the program (I actually had not thought of calculating the % until now -thank you); I do have pre-and post-senior fitness test results for comparison; however those who did not reenroll, I have not communicated with them to find out if they have continued to strength train on their own.
      Thank you so much for your question,
      Wendy L

  6. Hi Wendy,
    Do you plan to follow up with attendees to ask if they are still doing the exercises?
    Thanks,
    Liz