Improving Strength Through Power Training Could Improve Safety For Older Adults
As we age, our bodies experience a series of changes that usually tend to make everyday activities more difficult to complete. Decreased flexibility, strength, and balance, a decline in posture and hearing, and less than ideal joints are a few of the many changes that occur throughout the aging process. These changes often have a negative impact on one’s quality of life while also dramatically increasing the risk for falls and other injuries, which can further complicate matters.
For these reasons, health experts strongly recommend that older adults engage in regular physical activity like strength training to improve overall physical function, which can reduce the risk for these types of health problems. One alternative to traditional strength training is power training, in which weights—or other forms of resistance—are moved at higher velocities during the lifting phase, followed by a controlled lowering phase. Previous research has shown that power training is in fact more beneficial than traditional strength training for improving physical function; however, the types of exercises featured in those studies may not have been true power training exercises.
Researchers review 20 high-quality studies on strength vs power training
Therefore, a systematic review and meta-analysis was performed to compare the effectiveness of power training and traditional strength training. For the study, investigators searched for randomized-controlled trials in which healthy, community-living adults with an average age of at least 60 underwent both traditional strength training and power training interventions. Once identified, the findings of these studies were then analyzed and compared to one another to determine which type of intervention was superior.
Twenty Research Studies Were Reviewed
A total of 20 randomized-controlled trials that included 566 patients from six countries were included in the analysis. Most trials lasted 12 weeks and saw patients perform strength training or power training exercises twice per week using free weights, body weights, training machines, or vests. Results from these studies indicated that power training was associated with greater improvements in physical function and self-reported function than traditional strength training.
Power Training Appears to Win for Older Adults
Additional research is now needed to confirm these findings, but it appears that power training may be more beneficial for older adults than strength training, and these benefits may help to reduce the risk for falls and other health complications in this population. Power training exercises can easily be performed with the same instruments as traditional strength training—weight machines, free weights, and bodyweight—and the only difference is the manner in which exercises are performed.
At Bacci & Glinn Physical Therapy, we can provide personalized exercise programs that are 100% goal oriented for our older adults. A quality physical therapy program is likely to significantly reduce the risk for falls and other aging-related injuries.