Once-A-Week Exercise Enough To Significantly Improve Strength, Endurance In Women Over 60, New Research Concludes

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"Before I saw the data, if anyone told me that the group that only exercised once a week would improve their leg press more than 45 pounds during a 16-week period, I would have been quite surprised," said study author Gordon Fisher. redlionhoteldenver / Flickr

No time for exercise? No problem. 

New research suggests that a single day of exercise per week may significantly increase strength and fitness in women over the age of 60. A new study, forthcoming in the The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found no significant difference among relevant test subjects who worked out once, twice, or three times a week. The findings may encourage increased fitness by removing a classic exercise deterrent: time-consuming adherence. 

"One of the biggest barriers to exercise training for the older female population is adherence, and one of the key findings in this study is that doing a little bit of exercise can go a long way," Gordon Fisher, primary investigator of the study, said in press release issued by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Lack of time is the most often-cited barrier to exercise adherence.”

The study monitored 63 women performing aerobic exercise training (AET) and resistance exercise training (RET) over a period of 16 weeks. The test subjects were divided into groups that performed the exercises once, twice, or three times a week. While the researchers found a significant increase in both strength and endurance in the participating women, they found no internal difference in improvement within the set. For this reason, the health benefits did not appear to be connected to exercise frequency. 

“This study demonstrates that doing as little as one AET and one RET workout each week can provide a lot of benefit for older women's overall quality of life and health,” Fisher explained. "Before I saw the data, if anyone told me that the group that only exercised once a week would improve their leg press more than 45 pounds during a 16-week period, I would have been quite surprised.

"We were also surprised that all three groups increased their lean muscle mass but did not have any significant decreases in body weight," he added. 

According to the researchers, the findings may be a crucial incentive, as preservation of lean muscle is imperative to the retention of essential skeletal muscle mass as the body grows older. A natural way to combat aging, low-frequency exercise combining AET and RET may dramatically improve the quality of life among older women. Walking, sitting, standing, and climbing stairs are only some of the basic, often overlooked tasks that once-a-week workouts facilitate. 

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