Resistance Training Yields Long-Term Benefits for Older Adults, Study Finds

A new study from MSN, published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine reveals that resistance training can have lasting benefits for skeletal muscle function in older adults. According to lead author Mads Bloch-Ibenfeldt, a doctoral student at the Institute of Sports Medicine at Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, engaging in resistance training later in life can result in sustained improvements in muscle strength.

Study Overview and Findings

Researchers conducted a randomized control trial with 369 recently retired, healthy adults aged 64 to 75 to assess the long-term effects of resistance exercise. Participants were assigned to one of three groups: lifting weights three times a week, performing moderate-intensity training with body weight and resistance bands three times a week, or maintaining their usual exercise routines. as reported by AOL

The study measured participants’ bone and muscle strength and body fat levels at the beginning of the trial, after one year, and then two and four years later. Results indicated that those who engaged in heavy resistance training maintained their leg strength even four years after the intervention. In contrast, the moderate-intensity group experienced a non-significant decrease in leg strength.

Expert Insights

Dr. John Batsis, a geriatrician and associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, emphasized the importance of exercise across the lifespan. He noted that starting physical activity around retirement can lead to significant health benefits. Batsis, who was not involved in the study, highlighted the broad scope of exercise, including aerobic, resistance, flexibility, and balance activities, all of which impact overall health and physical function.

CNN fitness contributor Dana Santas explained that resistance training, which involves exercises that improve strength by making muscles work against a force, is crucial for maintaining muscle mass, bone density, and mobility in older adults. She recommended incorporating heavier weights into resistance training routines for added benefits.

Practical Recommendations

While the study involved gym-based weighted exercises, Batsis pointed out that not everyone has access to such facilities. Santas suggested home-based exercises that are functional and practical for older adults, such as box squats, which can be done with or without dumbbells for added resistance, and exercises using resistance bands like side steps and lunges.

Santas advised doing two or three sets of eight to twelve repetitions of each exercise a couple of times a week. She emphasized that regular exercise and healthy lifestyle habits are crucial for maintaining independence in later life.


The study underscores the importance of resistance training for older adults, showing that even starting later in life can lead to long-lasting health benefits. As Batsis concluded, lifestyle changes, including proper nutrition and regular exercise, are key to healthy aging.