Weightlifting could reverse frailty in old age, research suggests

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Older people would benefit from weightlifting and increasing their protein intake to reverse frailty, new research suggests.

Increases in life expectancy have led to rising numbers of frail older people, with one in 10 people suffering with infirmity, rising to half of those over the age of 80.

John Travers, lead author and writing in the British Journal of General Practice, said: “Frailty screening is increasingly recommended in primary care and in some cases contractually required, but there is a lack of guidance on interventions, once frailty has been identified.

“This study outlines both the relative effectiveness and ease of implementation of frailty interventions in primary care, and these findings may help the choice of appropriate primary care interventions.”

Researchers reviewed 46 studies involving 15,690 people and found that interventions with both muscle strength training and protein supplement were consistently considered to be the most effective.

The study authors recommend GPs should prescribe 20-25 minutes of weight training exercises found days a week to elderly patients –which should be made up of 15 workouts to strengthen the arms and legs, as well as improving balance and co-ordination.

Authors have also advised elderly people drinking a protein powder supplement to help keep limbs and joints supple, with a dietary emphasis on daily milk, eggs, tuna or chicken.

Chad Smith, owner of Fitness Revolution, said: “Weightlifting enhances your metabolism, it helps your posture, it enhances your energy, it makes you more durable for sports of physical activity, so definitely strength training ought to be a part of everyone’s program.”

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