School of Medical and Health Sciences / Institute for Nutrition Research
Older adults experience considerable muscle and bone loss that are closely interconnected. The efficacy of progressive resistance training programs to concurrently reverse/slow the age-related decline in muscle strength and bone mineral density (BMD) in older adults remains unclear.
We aimed to quantify concomitant changes in lower-body muscle strength and BMD in older adults following a progressive resistance training program and to determine how these changes are influenced by mode (resistance only vs. combined resistance and weight-bearing exercises), frequency, volume, load, and program length.
MEDLINE/PubMed and Embase databases were searched for articles published in English before 1 June, 2021. Randomized controlled trials reporting changes in leg press or knee extension one repetition maximum and femur/hip or lumbar spine BMD following progressive resistance training in men and/or women ≥ 65 years of age were included. A random-effects meta-analysis and meta-regression determined the effects of resistance training and the individual training characteristics on the percent change (∆%) in muscle strength (standardized mean difference) and BMD (mean difference). The quality of the evidence was assessed using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool (version 2.0) and Grading of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) criteria.
Seven hundred and eighty studies were identified and 14 were included. Progressive resistance training increased muscle strength (∆ standardized mean difference = 1.1%; 95% confidence interval 0.73, 1.47; p ≤ 0.001) and femur/hip BMD (∆ mean difference = 2.77%; 95% confidence interval 0.44, 5.10; p = 0.02), but not BMD of the lumbar spine (∆ mean difference = 1.60%; 95% confidence interval − 1.44, 4.63; p = 0.30). The certainty for improvement was greater for muscle strength compared with BMD, evidenced by less heterogeneity (I2 = 78.1% vs 98.6%) and a higher overall quality of evidence. No training characteristic significantly affected both outcomes (p > 0.05), although concomitant increases in strength and BMD were favored by higher training frequencies, increases in strength were favored by resistance only and higher volumes, and increases in BMD were favored by combined resistance plus weight-bearing exercises, lower volumes, and higher loads.
Progressive resistance training programs concomitantly increase lower-limb muscle strength and femur/hip bone mineral density in older adults, with greater certainty for strength improvement. Thus, to maximize the efficacy of progressive resistance training programs to concurrently prevent muscle and bone loss in older adults, it is recommended to incorporate training characteristics more likely to improve BMD.
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