Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Relationship between strength, power and performance in daily activities

Few studies have considered functional ability together with muscle power and community-dwelling elderly as population sample. There are few long-term studies and they mostly involve supervised training, which could reach a limited number of people. Partially supervised, home-based or mixed training programmes could potentially have a larger impact on the elderly population.

The aim of this study was to determine to which extent and how differently a long-term mixed strength training programme at moderate intensity can impact on muscle function (MF), functional ability (FA) and physical activity (PA) profile in healthy community-dwelling men and women over 75 years of age. We also wanted to address the relationship of lower extremity strength-power and the ability to accomplish selected functional activities in order to identify the most influencial determinant of performance in old age.

Training was performed twice a week in a hospital-based training facility with two multi-gym machines for the lower limbs at 60% of the repetition maximum (1 RM). At home subjects used elastic bands once a week. We measured: maximum isometric strength of knee extensors (KE), ankle plantar flexors (PF), leg extensor power (LEP), Functional reach (FR), Chair rise 1 (CR1) and 10 times (CR10), Bed rise (BR), Six-min walking test (6MWT), Stair climbing (SC), Get up and go (GU&G), One-leg standing (1LS). Physical activity (PA) was assessed with the Paqap questionnaire.
Women were significantly weaker than men at baseline: -47% for KE and -59% for PF. Training induced significant gains in MF and FA in the training females; males improved significantly only FA. PA levels increased in the training group.
Long-term mixed programmes can improve MF and FA in elderly females and FA in males.

The main finding of this study is that a long-term mixed training programme at moderate intensity is effective in improving MF, and FA in healthy elderly women and can positively affect life style. Women represent the first target of training programmes since their muscle power might decline in old age below the threshold needed for basic daily life activities. Muscle power appears therefore a crucial determinant of performance for women, whereas men seem to have �safety margins� of muscle power for daily functional activities.

The men probably require intensities of training higher than 60% 1RM to improve MF, but still moderate training has shown to improve their FA and life style. LEP showed higher correlation coefficients than KE-PF with FA: the average correlation coefficient for GU&G, SC, CR10, 6MWT was r= - 0.52 with LEP and r= -0.43 with KE-PF. LEP appears therefore a more relevant measurement than strength to important mobility tasks. FA tests, namely GU&G, SC, CR10 and 6MWT, can be used to reliably assess muscle power capacity in ambulatory care or home setting instead of more expensive instruments.

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