LAS VEGAS — Shippensburg University professor Sally Paulson, University of Arkansas professor Michelle Gray, and Doug Lentz, director of fitness and wellness at Results Fitness in Chambersburg, presented their research on the importance of maintaining muscle strength as we age at the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s national conference July 11 in Las Vegas.
Lentz previously developed a research-based exercise program for aging members of Results Fitness. He, Paulson and Gray studied the results of the program to determine if muscle power is important as people age, and if improved muscle power would help them perform activities of daily living and lower their risk of falling.
“I asked Sally and the exercise science department at Shippensburg University if they would like to partner with me in this research,” Lentz said. “Sally’s work has been published before, and she is doing important things in the field. So I was happy that she chose to join us and lead the team.”
Fifty-six older adults volunteered to complete the study. They were asked to take tests for balance, functional fitness, gait analysis, hip-hinging and power before they began the exercise classes, and then participated in a unique exercise plan Lentz developed specifically to help older adults with fall prevention and improved balance.
The classes addressed strength, balance, power and flexibility. Participants met twice a week for 12 weeks.
According to Paulson, the official results showed, “As one ages, muscular power decreases, which increases fall risk, and functional fitness declines. Muscular power is imperative to the ability to perform everyday activities as well as maintaining independence.
“Our study showed that older adults with greater power walked faster and out-performed those with less power on functional fitness, which measures everyday things like walking, getting out of a chair, going up stairs, etc.”
According to Lentz, the results mean that maintaining muscle power can help maintain balance, and physical fitness is extremely important, especially as we age.
“You need to make exercise a part of your routine,” Lentz said. “Seek out a professional who has training and is educated in body mechanics and keeps up on the latest research, who can develop a program that is right for you and your goals. ... The wrong training plan could cause more harm than benefit.”
For more information about Results Fitness and the individual exercise programs offered there, call 262-4650.