Older people would benefit from pumping iron

Weight training and protein are effective to avoid frailty in older age, study finds.

A new study has found that “a combination of strength exercises and protein supplementation is the most effective and easiest to implement intervention to delay or reverse frailty”.

The research involved a review of 46 studies involving 15,690 adults on interventions to improve frailty in older people.

Roughly two-thirds of all studies demonstrated that interventions improved frailty.

Interventions that included strength training and increased protein intake or supplementation were consistently rated highest in terms of effectiveness and ease of implementation.

Interventions that were similarly easy to implement but in the mid-range of effectiveness included tai chi, health education and increased calories.

Treatments such as hormone replacement or osteoporosis medicines were also in the mid-range of effectiveness, but harder to implement.

Home visits and geriatric assessments seemed to be among the less effective interventions.

The study’s authors said GPs should prescribe 20-25 minutes of exercises four days a week at home.

These are made up of 15 workouts to strengthen the arms and legs – as well as improving balance and co-ordination.

Diet also plays a key part in staying strong over the age of 70. Scientists advised eggs, milk, tuna and chicken should be on a pensioner’s menu as they are high in protein.

The study was conducted by researchers from St Vincent’s University Hospital and Trinity College Dublin. It was published in the peer-reviewed British Journal of General Practice.


Delaying and reversing frailty: a systematic review of primary care interventions – https://bjgp.org/content/69/678/e61