BACKGROUND: Physical muscle function and brain hippocampus size declines with age, accelerating after the age of 60. Strength training over a few months improves physical function, but less is known about how long-term strength training affects physical function and hippocampus volume. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the effect of 1-year strength training of two different intensities upon muscle mass, function, and hippocampus volume in retirement-age individuals.
METHODS: In this multidisciplinary randomized controlled trial (clinicaltrials.gov: NCT02123641), participants were allocated to either a) supervised, heavy resistance training (HRT, n = 149, 3/wk), b) moderate intensity resistance training (MIT, n = 154, 3/wk) or c) non-exercise activities (CON, n = 148). 451 participants were randomized (62-70 yrs., women 61%, ≈80% with a chronic medical disease) and 419 were included in the intention-to-treat analysis (n = 143, 144 and 132; HRT, MIT and CON). Changes in muscle power (primary outcome), strength and size, physical function, body composition, hippocampus volume and physical/mental well-being were analyzed.
FINDINGS: Of the participants (HRT + MIT), 83% completed training at least 2/week. Leg extensor power was unchanged in all groups, but strength training had a positive effect on isometric knee extensor strength in both groups, whereas an increased muscle mass, cross-sectional area of vastus lateralis muscle, a decreased whole-body fat percentage, visceral fat content and an improved mental health (SF-36) occurred in HRT only. Further, chair-stand performance improved in all groups, whereas hippocampus volume decreased in all groups over time with no influence of strength training.
INTERPRETATION: Together, the results indicate that leg extensor power did not respond to long-term supervised strength training, but this type of training in a mixed group of healthy and chronically diseased elderly individuals can be implemented with good compliance and induces consistent changes in physiological parameters of muscle strength, muscle mass and abdominal fat.
- Kliniske undersøgelsesmetoder, laboratorieteknologi og radiografi