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June 26, 2014 Volume 35, No. 32

Strengthening exercises help seniors maintain locomotion, researchers say

Studies show that exercise does a body good for children and adults. Researchers are also discovering that, despite traditional views, the elderly can also benefit from exercise.

MU researchers have found that older adults who exercise experience less physical decline than those who don’t. 

“Physical decline is natural in this age group, but we found that people who exercised more declined less,” said Lorraine Phillips, an associate professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. 

Though walking and stretching are important, seniors also need to perform muscle strengthening exercises, Phillips said. 

Muscle strength is important to maintain the ability to conduct everyday activities such as opening jars, standing up from chairs and supporting one’s bodyweight.

It can also help seniors live independently longer.

Phillips recommends that seniors engage in muscle-strengthening exercises, which include knee extensions and bicep curls.

To combat the lack of physical activity among seniors, Phillips said health care providers should discuss exercise programs with them and share the possible risks associated with their lack of exercise, such as losing ability to live independently.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals 65 years of age and older that have no limiting health conditions should do muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups at least two days a week.