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Influences of Resistance Training on Physical Function in Older, Obese Men and Women With Sarcopenia

Stoever, Katja PT, MA1; Heber, Anke MA2; Eichberg, Sabine PhD1; Brixius, Klara PhD2

Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: January/March 2018 - Volume 41 - Issue 1 - p 20–27
doi: 10.1519/JPT.0000000000000105
Research Reports

Background and Purpose: Sarcopenic obesity is associated with disability, gait problems, and falls. Activities of daily living such as walking and climbing stairs are physically difficult or impossible for the individual with severe obesity. These aspects also limit participation in recreational activities or exercise programs. However, good muscle function is crucial to maintain functional independence. The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of resistance training on physical function in older, obese persons with sarcopenia. The study was conducted in a pre-test/post-test design with 2 intervention groups.

Methods: The participants were physically inactive and obese older adults (≥65 years, BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), without severe diseases. They were divided into a group with sarcopenia (SAR, n = 28) and a group with no or presarcopenia (NSAR, n = 20). The intervention consisted of progressive resistance training, undertaken twice a week for 16 weeks, increasing to 80% to 85% of maximum strength with 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. Sarcopenia was assessed using the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), hand-grip strength, and skeletal muscle mass index (SMI). In addition, the modified Physical Performance Test (PPT) and the Functional Reach Test were used for determining physical function.

Results and Discussion: After training, participants in the SAR group were able to significantly increase their performance in hand-grip strength (by 9%), gait speed (by 5%), SPPB score (by 13%), and modified PPT score (by 11%). In SPPB and modified PPT, they could reach the values of the NSAR group's baseline performance. The NSAR group participants were also able to improve their already good performance at baseline in the 2 tests of physical function after training (SPPB score by 10%, modified PPT score by 7%). However, the participants of both groups could not increase the results of the SMI and the Functional Reach Test.

Conclusions: The participants of both groups improved their physical performance in several parameters after training. The results also showed that older, obese adults with sarcopenia benefitted from resistance training. The increase in muscle function can support them having a life with functional independence, and this can help reduce the risk of disability and falls.

1Institute of Movement and Sport Gerontology, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany.

2Department of Molecular and Cellular Sport Medicine, Institute of Cardiovascular Research and Sport Medicine, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany.

Address correspondence to: Katja Stoever, PT, MA, Institute of Movement and Sport Gerontology, German Sport University Cologne, Institute of Movement and Sport Gerontology, Am Sportpark Muengersdorf 6, 50933 Cologne, Germany (

This study was funded by the German Sport University Cologne. The sponsors had no role in the design and conduct of the study, in the collection, analysis, interpretation of data, or in the preparation of the manuscript.

All authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Richard W. Bohannon was the Decision Editor.

© 2018 Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, APTA
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