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Resistance training for health and disease: introduction


Section Editor(s): Pollock, Michael L.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 1999 - Volume 31 - Issue 1 - p 10-11
Clinical Sciences: Symposium: Resistance Training For Health And Disease

Submitted for publication June 1997.

Accepted for publication February 1998.

The Editorial Office wishes to express thanks and to acknowledge the assistance of Craig Kirkbride, who assisted us in the preparation of this symposium in the absence of Dr. Michael Pollock.

This symposium was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, Minneapolis, MN, June 3, 1995.

Departments of Medicine and Exercise Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; and Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72114

The symposium entitled Resistance Training for Health and Disease was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The fact that more than 400 participants attended this symposium on the last afternoon and session of the conference attests to the importance and interest in this topic. Historically, resistance training was not well accepted in adult fitness/wellness centers until the 1980s and became well integrated as part of a well-rounded fitness program since 1990 when ACSM published their revised position stand on "The Recommended Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory and Muscular Fitness in Healthy Adults" (2). In addition, evidence is emerging relating to the importance of resistance training for health and disease prevention. Recent statements on exercise by the American Heart Association (4,5), American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (1), and the Surgeon General (9) have recommended resistance training as part of a preventive and rehabilitative program of physical activity including aerobic endurance and flexibility exercises.

Clearly, research shows the value of resistance training for the development of muscular strength, power, and endurance with a subsequent increase in muscle mass (3,8). This evidence has been of extreme value in orthopaedic rehabilitative programs and for the general conditioning of athletes. Only more recently has the focus of the importance of resistance training shifted from a fitness goal to a health and disease prevention one. For example, Pollock and Vincent (7) in a recent issue of The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Research Digest reviewed the effect of resistance training on health (see Table 1). Also, Nelson and Wernick (6) published a book on the importance of resistance training for the health of females.



This symposium addressed the scientific evidence and importance of resistance training for the development and maintenance of muscle and bone. The importance of strength training in the elderly, in the prevention and rehabilitation from many chronic diseases, such as physical dysfunction, obesity-metabolism and weight control, osteoporosis, low back pain, and disability, are reviewed. The acute responses to resistance training are presented and clarified, which shows that this type of training is safe for use with middle-aged and elderly populations as well as for frail and cardiac patients. Finally, the rationale and minimal standards for resistance training are addressed. These guidelines include using 8-10 different exercises and recommends 1 set (moderate to maximal effort) performed 2-3 d·wk−1 using 8-12 (young) or 10-15 (older/cardiac patients) repetitions.

This symposium also addresses the need for further research. Of particular importance is the need for randomized long-term clinical trials establishing the effect of resistance training on health and chronic disease parameters.

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1. American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Guidelines for Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs, 2nd Ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1995.
2. American College of Sports Medicine. Position stand on the recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness in healthy adults. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 22:265-274, 1990.
3. Fleck, S. J., and W. J. Kraemer. Designing Resistance Training Programs, 2nd Ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1997.
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6. Nelson, M. E., and S. Wernick. Strong Women Stay Young. New York: Bantam Books, 1997.
7. Pollock, M. L., and K. R. Vincent. Resistance training for health. The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Research Digest, Series 2, No. 8, December, 1996.
8. Tesch, P. A. Skeletal muscle adaptations consequent to long-term heavy resistance exercise. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 20(Suppl. 5):S132-S134, 1988.
9. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U. S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1996.
© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.