Review of April 2012 Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
One of the sources I review regularly for 40plussports is "The Journal Aging and Physical Activity (JAPA) (The current edition of JAPA can be found on the JAPA website at ) While many articles are not particularly relevant to Masters Sports, I found two articles in the April 2012 issue informative. While they do not offer any radical new ideas for training, one article confirms that cardiac patients have the same motivation for physical activity as the rest of us, and the other article compares strength and power training. Please keep in mind that JAPA is a scientific journal and not a popular magazine for the casual lay reader. But don't be put off by the titles of the articles.
Long-Term Adherence to Structured Physical Activity after a Cardiac Event
Martin and Woods; University of Dublin, Ireland; 2012
As the title indicates, this article focuses on individuals with established coronary disease. Despite the fact that exercise offers many benefits to recovering cardiac patients, it is reported that only 12.2% of individuals who have suffered a cardiac event actually partake in recommended hospital-based exercise classes. Furthermore, evidence suggests that physical activity levels decline after the program is over. Sadly, this indifference to, or rejection of, physical exercise is consistent with current trends in the U.S. population where only 38% of men and 31% of women ages 65 to 75 exercise regularly. After age 75 the percentages are even lower.
So what are the factors that lead recovering cardiac patients, and perhaps other older adults, to keep at a program of regular physical exercise?
While I won't go into the details of the study (you can find them on the website), here are the factors cited by the participants of the study.
1. Social support from health professionals, family, and friends Encouragement from those closest to you is a great motivator.
2. Exercises were interesting and stimulating If physical activity is boring, you won't keep at it. You want to find something that you really enjoy -- long-term.
3. Recognition of the health benefits of exercise How many people have to explain that physical activity, at any age, is good for you before you get the message?
4. Exercise became part of their routine It is likely that becoming routine was the result of the other three factors. It is easier to make exercise part of your life if you are encouraged by others, find the activity interesting and stimulating, and realize it's good for you.
Finally, patients in the study said that, in terms of improving motivation, they wanted exercises that were more varied and more challenging.
One of the rewards of Masters Sports is the camaraderie among competitors and the continuous challenge of doing your best. Even moderately committed competitors develop a training routine to fit their life and work. How about becoming a Masters Athlete?
Effects of Strength and Power Training on Neuromuscular Variables in Older Adults Wallerstein, Tricoli, Barroso, et al; University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil; 2012
It is well known that aging is accompanied by a progressive loss of muscle mass. Strength training has been widely used to counteract these effects by increasing muscle-mass and muscle-force production in older individuals. On the other hand, power training has been recommended because of improvements in functionality produced by high-movement speed used in the exercises, increasing the firing rate of fast-twitch muscles.
This article compares the efficacy of the two types of training on the development of muscle mass and their effect on the age-related decrease of motor neurons and fast-twitch fibers in the skeletal muscles. Here strength training is defined as "high-load, low velocity" exercise (i.e. heavy weights lifted slowly) and power training is defined as "low-load, high velocity exercises (i.e. lighter weights lifted rapidly). A randomly selected group of 59 individuals (ages 60-80) were assigned to one of three groups - a strength training group, a power training group, and a control groups. A full description of the experiment can be found on the JAPA website.
The main findings were that the two protocols were equally effective in increasing muscle-force production capacity, even when training with large differences in training intensity. They both produce similar morphological adaptations.
My conclusion after reading this article is that an exercise program should include both strength training and power training. Some exercises should involve increasing load at a low-velocity, low repetitions and others should involve moderate loads at high-velocity, high repetitions. For me, training involves finding a balance.
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