The aim of this study was to examine alterations in maximal isometric strength of multiple muscle groups over 5 years and to compare strength changes between individuals who maintained a high level of physical activity and others who did not. As a part of the Evergreen Project, 20 men and 59 women participated in at least one strength test at the age of 80 and again 5 years later. Men displayed no decrease in lean body mass over the follow-up. and the only significant strength decrease was in elbow flexion strength. In women, both lean body mass and muscle strength decreased significantly (except trunk extension strength). Overall, those men and women who were considered to have maintained a high level of activity retained their strength at a higher level than the more sedentary participants. Older people should be encouraged to continue physically demanding activities to maintain muscle strength at an adequate level for independent living.
Taina Rantanen is with the Finnish Center for Interdisciplinary Gerontology, University of Jyväskylä, and the Epidemiology, Demography and Biometry Program, National Institute on Aging. National Institutes of Health. Eino Heikkinen is with the Finnish Center for Interdisciplinary Gerontology and the Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä. Direct correspondence to Taina Rantanen. Epidemiology. Demography and Biometry Program, NIA, NIH Gateway Building. Room 3 C309,7201 Wisconsin Ave. MSC 9205. Bethesda. MD 20892-9205.