From the Research Papers: The Benefits of Resistance Band Training for Older People

Looking for a simple and effective way to improve health in your older clients?

A study published last year in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, ‘Effects of Resistance Band Exercise on Vascular Activity and Fitness in Older Adults’showed an improved acetylcholine-chloride-mediated endothelial-dependent vasodilation as well as an improvement in general health and wellbeing after resistance-band use.

Endothelial dysfunction ‘[…] is considered an early and important promoter for atherosclerosis and thrombosis…’ says the study and so it’s no wonder that more and more research is going into improving endothelial function as well as preventing related issues arising in the first instance.

The study goes onto say that ‘previous research has noted improvement in endothelial responsiveness following a period of resistance-based exercise whereas others have noted that such changes are dependent on volume, frequency and intensity level.’

The study looked at the effect of low-intensity resistance training on endothelial function in sedentary over-50s to see if it could improve vascular function.

The study leaders completed a baseline assessment of the two groups (exercise group (EX) and control group (CON)) to measure factors like strength, endurance, functional capacity, quality of life and cutaneous microvascular function.

Patients were then placed on an 8-week programme during which the EX group embarked on a 24-session resistance-band training schedule and the CON group continuing with their usual sedentary lifestyle.

Upon reassessment after the 8-weeks, researchers discovered a large difference in lower-limb perfusion between the EX and CON groups with the EX group showing considerable improvement.

The researchers also found an increase in upper-limb perfusion in the EX group compared to the CON group. There was also a marked improvement in the functional capability of those in the EX group – where they could perform better than they had in the baseline assessment in both squats and the sit-and-reach exercise.

The study concludes that ‘these results show that short-term (8-week) resistance band training in older adults can induce a change in endothelial microvascular integrity, which appears to represent an acute adaptation similar to what we have observed previously in lower-intensity aerobic exercise.’

The biggest takeaways

The most interesting conclusion of this study was actually that the 8-week programme was self-managed in that the EX group were given brief training and a set of exercises using a resistance band to do at home.

The researchers point out that resistance band training can improve endothelial function in the same way that other low-intensity exercise has been previously shown to. However, they conclude that resistance bands are particularly suited for use amongst the older generations as they are simple and effective to use at home.

This was important for the researchers, as exercise regimes with poor uptake aren’t beneficial regardless of their efficacy. The researchers wanted to maximise comfort and familiarity for the patients, give them a sense of control and of autonomy to further increase the likelihood of adherence.



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