Effects of progressive resistance training on body composition in frail older adults: Results of a randomized, controlled trial

Ellen F. Binder, Kevin E. Yarasheski, Karen Steger-May, David R. Sinacore, Marybeth Brown, Kenneth B. Schechtman, John O. Holloszy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Scopus citations


Background. Progressive resistance exercise training (PRT) has been shown to increase muscle strength and fat-free mass (FFM) in elderly persons. Limited information is available regarding the effects of PRT on lean and fat mass in frail elderly persons. Methods. Ninety-one community-dwelling sedentary men and women, 78 years and older with physical frailty (defined using standardized objective criteria) were enrolled in a 9-month trial of exercise training (ET). Physical frailty was defined as having 2 of the 3 following criteria: modified Physical Performance Test score between 18 and 32, peak aerobic power between 10 and 18 ml/kg/min, or self-report of difficulty or assistance with two instrumental activities of daily living or one basic activity of daily living. Participants were randomly assigned to either a control (CTL) group that performed a low intensity home exercise program or a supervised ET group that performed 3 months of low intensity exercise and 3 months of PRT. Results. After completion of PRT, ET participants had greater improvements than did CTL participants in maximal voluntary force production for knee extension (mean Δ +5.3 ± 13 ft/lb vs +1.1 ± 11 ft/lb, p = .05), measured using isokinetic dynamometry. Total body FFM (measured using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) increased in the ET group, but not in the CTL group (mean Δ +0.84 ± 1.4 kg vs +0.01 ± 1.5 kg, p = .005). Total, trunk, intra-abdominal, and subcutaneous fat mass (measured using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and 1H-magnetic resonance imaging) did not change in response to PRT. Conclusions. Three months of supervised PRT induced improvements in maximal voluntary thigh muscle strength and whole body FFM in frail, community-dwelling elderly women and men. This supervised exercise program may not be sufficient to reduce whole-body or intra-abdominal fat area in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1425-1431
Number of pages7
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2005


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