Combining Resistance Exercises and Blood Flow Restriction May increase Muscle Mass in Elderly

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Researchers for a paper published in the May issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology studied 7 men with an average age of 70 who performed 4 minutes of low-resistance leg extension exercises both with and without inflatable cuffs that reduce blood flow out of the muscles. The researchers found that when the men put the cuff on, they responded like a young man to the exercises. The cuffs made light weights feel heavier and produced greater muscle mass in these men.

Researchers know that resistance weight exercises alone are effective against muscle loss that occurs during aging. However, older men receive less of a post exercise benefit than younger men and those with debilitating conditions are often unable to carry out resistant exercises. The researchers think this process (resistanc exercise and restricting blood flow) will help older men who need to bring their muscle mass back. They also say “it could be used for patients who have had surgery and aren’t capable of lifting enough weight to keep their muscles in shape, or for people who have arthritis or other conditions that make lifting heavy weights a problem.” For example, following ACL knee surgery when a person is unable to lift heavy weight, they could use a light weight with a restriction cuff to prevent muscle loss normally seen after knee surgery.

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