OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of an 8-week exercise training program with a special focus on light- to moderate-intensity resistance exercises (30–70% of one repetition maximum, 1RM) and a subsequent 4-week training cessation period (detraining) on muscle strength and functional capacity in participants aged 90 and older.
DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial performed during March to September 2009.
SETTING: Geriatric nursing home.
PARTICIPANTS: Forty nonagenarians (90–97) were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group (16 women and 4 men per group).
INTERVENTION: Eight-week muscle strength exercise intervention focused on lower limb strength exercises of light to moderate intensity.
MEASUREMENTS: Primary outcome: 1RM leg press. Secondary outcomes: handgrip strength, 8-m walk test, 4-step stairs test, Timed Up and Go test, and number of falls.
RESULTS: A significant group by time interaction effect (P=.02) was observed only for the 1RM leg press. In the intervention group, 1RM leg press increased significantly with training by 10.6 kg [95% confidence interval (CI)=4.1–17.1 kg; P=.01]. Except for the mean group number of falls, which were 1.2 falls fewer per participant in the intervention group (95% CI=0.0–3.0; P=.03), no significant training effect on the secondary outcome measures was found.
CONCLUSION: Exercise training, even of short duration and light to moderate intensity, can increase muscle strength while decreasing fall risk in nonagenarians.