This study’s purpose was to investigate whether a 10-week low-intensity strength-training program could improve strength of the knee extensors and functional ability. Participants 65 years and older with low knee-extensor muscle strength were randomized into an exercise (n = 11) and a control group (n = 10). Knee-extensor strength and functional ability were measured before and after the program and again 6 months later. Knee-extensor strength (Nm) increased by 54% (13% in the control) by the end of the training program (F = 13.02, p = .01), and most of this improvement was still present 6 months later. The program had a beneficial effect on functional tasks, especially the time taken to rise from a chair in combination with a 3-m walk (F = 3.99, p = .03) and self-reported ability related to lower extremity performance (F = 6.97, p = .02). It seems that this program could contribute to improving functional ability in frail older people.
The authors are with TNO Prevention and Health, Division Public Health, PO Box 2215, 2301 CE Leiden, the Netherlands.