Harvard Health Publishes Report on Strength and Power Training: A guide for adults of all ages

Strength and Power Training, A Guide for Adults of All Ages, by Harvard Medical School (Harvard Health Publications)According to a special health report issued by Harvard Health Publications of Harvard Medical School, “Sarcopenia—the gradual decrease in muscle tissue—starts at around age 30, [and] the average 30-year-old can expect to lose about 25% of muscle mass and strength by age 70 and another 25% by age 90.”

“Some of these changes stem from the physiological effects of aging, but disuse plays a bigger role than many people suspect. Studies of older adults consistently prove that a good deal of the decline in strength can be recouped with strength training,” the report states.

The report, “Strength and Power Training: A guide for adults of all ages,” was prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Jonathan Bean, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, and Medical Directorat Spaulding Cambridge Outpatient Center, and Walter Frontera, M.D., Ph.D., Dean, Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Professor of Physiology, University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, and former Lecturer at Harvard Medical School.

It is available for purchase online from Harvard Health Publications.

Consequences of Muscle Loss or Weakened Muscles

According to the Harvard report, “weak muscles hasten the loss of independence, as everyday activities—such as walking, cleaning, shopping, and even dressing—become more difficult. They also make it harder to balance your body properly when moving or even standing still, or to catch yourself if you trip.”

“The loss of power compounds this. Perhaps it’s not so surprising that, by age 65, more than one in three people has suffered a fall,” the report states.

“Because bones also weaken over time, one out of every 20 of these falls causes a fracture, usually of the hip, wrist, or leg. Some of these fractures can lead to serious or even fatal complications, but in general, people with greater muscle strength before a fall are less likely to sustain a serious injury,” according to the report.

What Can Be Done to Stem Muscle Loss?

“Strength training is appropriate for every body. It benefits people of all ages and athletic abilities, whether you are 40 or 85, well-toned or unable to get up from a chair without a helping hand,” according to the report.

“Studies attest that strength training, as well as aerobic exercise, can help you manage and sometimes prevent conditions as varied as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis. It can also protect vitality, make everyday tasks more manageable, and help you maintain a healthy weight,” the publisher states in a description of the Harvard report.

The new Harvard Health report “answers your strength training questions and helps you develop a program that’s right for you,” according to the publisher.

“It includes more than 25 illustrated strength training exercises with step-by-step instructions, as well as information on choosing weights and strength training equipment, avoiding injury, and stretching. You’ll also find information on power training, a new approach that can help you ward off frailty in your later years.”

Contents of the Report

The Harvard Health report, “Strength and Power Training: A Guide for adults of all ages,” includes chapters covering the following subjects:

  1. The basics: Strength training, power training, and your muscles
    • Strength training: A traditional approach
    • Power training: A newer approach
    • A look at muscles and movement
    • Age and muscle loss
  2. The health benefits of power and strength training
    • Health benefits of power training
    • Health benefits of strength training
    • Arthritis
    • Heart disease
    • Osteoporosis
    • Diabetes
    • Other conditions
  3. Getting set up
    • Buying basic equipment
    • Investing wisely in large equipment
    • Working with exercise pros
  4. Safety first
    • Questions for your doctor
    • Tips for avoiding injury
  5. Designing your program
    • Strength training questions and answers
    • Current exercise recommendations
    • Your workout calendar
  6. Working out
  7. Workout I: A good starting point
    • The exercises
    • Workout I
  8. Workout II: Taking the next step
    • The exercises
    • Workout II
  9. Strength training over a lifetime: Keys to staying motivated
    • Charting your progress
    • Stepping up the pace
    • Keeping it interesting
    • Maintaining gains
    • Switching up your routine
  10. Balancing and stretching exercises
    • Balancing act
    • Stretching
    • Balancing and stretching exercises
  11. Resources
  12. Glossary”

The report can be purchased online from Harvard Health Publications. Download of the report as a PDF document costs $18.00, or a print copy can be purchased for $20.00.

More Information

For more information on exercise, a healthy diet, and other lifestyle factors that promote wellness and prevent diseases, see the HelpingYouCare® resource pages on Wellness/ Healthy Living for Seniors & Caregivers, including:

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