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doi: 10.3900/fpj.4.2.107.e

Muscular strength and autonomy maintenance in senior women, conquered in previous work of neural adaptation

Guilherme Gomes Côrtes (CREF 000965-G/RJ)
Programa de Pós-Graduação Stricto Sensu em Ciência da Motricidade Humana da
Universidade Castelo Branco/RJ
Universidade Estácio de Sá
Fundação Estadual do Norte Fluminense (FENORTE)
Centro Federal de Educação Tecnológica de Campos dos Goytacazes
Rua Dr. Siqueira nº 294 apt. 704. Parque Tamandaré,
CEP: 28030-131, Campos dos Goytacazes – RJ.
guilhermecortes@uol.com.br

Vernon Furtado da Silva, PhD (CREF 005475-G/RJ)
Prof. Titular do Programa de Pós-Graduação Stricto Sensu em Ciência da Motricidade
Humana da Universidade Castelo Branco/RJ
vfs@castelobranco.br

ABSTRACT

Aging is followed by many biological changes, such as sarcopenia, which leeds to muscular strength and functional autonomy loss. The aim of this study is to observe gains in muscular strentgh and in autonomy with a diary resistance program of 12 weeks. Thirty elderly women with ages between 62 and 68 years performed the following exercises: 1RM, getting up from a seated position (GUSP), getting up from a belly down position (GUBDP) and a10-meter walk (W10m). In the last week, this group was divided in 2 (16 and 14 subjects). The Mainteinance Group (MG) trained once a week for 8 weeks and the Control Group (CP) had no training at all. After eight weeks, the CG showed significant loss (P< 0.05) in all exercises, compared to the MG. However, both groups kept their times in the functional autonomy tests acquired in these 12 weeks of training. In conclusion, muscular strenght gains are still kept even when training is reduced and autonomy can still be seen when that is no training at all.

Keywords: Aging, neural adaptation, workout against resistance, maintenance of strength and autonomy


.Manutenção da força muscular e da autonomia, em mulheres idosas, conquistadas em trabalho prévio de adaptação neural

RESUMO

Com base no fato de que o processo de envelhecimento é acompanhado por muitas alterações orgânicas e, dentre estas, a sarcopenia que, devido a fatores biológicos, leva o idoso à perda de força muscular e autonomia funcional, esta pesquisa tem como objetivo tratar da manutenção da força muscular e autonomia em idosos, para a execução das atividades diárias. Realizou-se um trabalho contra resistência (12 semanas), com ganhos significativos (p<0,05) nos testes de: 1 RM, Levantar da Posição Sentado (LPS), Levantar da Posição Decúbito Ventral (LPDV), Caminhar 10 metros (C10m) em um grupo de 30 mulheres idosas (68 ± 6 anos). Na décima segunda semana, esse grupo foi dividido em dois subgrupos (16 e 14 sujeitos), denominados Grupo Manutenção (GM), que fez treinamento reduzido de uma sessão por semana, durante 8 semanas, e Grupo Controle (GC), que não fez o treinamento. Após a oitava semana de treinamento reduzido (GM) e destreino (GC), o GC apresentou perdas significativas (p<0,05) nos testes de 1 RM em todos os exercícios, ao contrário do GM. Todavia, nos testes de autonomia funcional, os dois grupos (GM e GC) mantiveram os tempos conquistados nas 12 semanas de treinamento, indicando que a autonomia funcional pode ser mantida com atividades do cotidiano. Em conclusão, o treinamento de força muscular, além de melhorar diversas funções biológicas, mostra que os ganhos poderão ser mantidos por 8 semanas com trabalho reduzido e a autonomia é mantida pelo mesmo tempo no destreino.

Palavras-chave: Envelhecimento, adaptação neural, Treinamento contra resistência, manutenção de força e autonomia.


El mantenimiento de fuerza muscular y autonomía en las mayores mujeres, conquistó en el trabajo anterior de adaptación neural

RESUMEN

Basado en el hecho de que la vejez viene acompañada de muchas alteraciones orgânicas y, entre estas la sarcopenia que debito a factores biológicos, lleva al anciano a la perdida de la fuerza muscular y la vez de la autonomía funcional. Esta investigación tiene como objetivo tratar del mantenimiento de la fuerza muscular y autonomía en las actividades diarias, después de un trabajo de contra resistencia (12 semanas) con ganâncias significativas (p<0,05) en pruebas de: 1 RM, levantarse desde la posición sentada (LPS), levantarse desde la posición decúbito abdominal (LPDV), caminar 10 metros (C10 m) em un grupo de 30 mujeres ancianas (68 ± 6 años). En la duodécima semana ese mismo grupo fue dividido en dos (16 y 14 sujetos) y llamados: Grupo Mantenimiento (GM), siendo el que hizo el entrenamiento reducido una vez a la semana por un periodo de 8 semanas y Grupo Control (GC), que no hizo el entrenamiento. Después de la octava semana de entrenamiento reducido (GM) y desentrenamiento (GC), el GC presentó perdidas significativas (p<0,05) en las pruebas de 1 RM en todos los ejercicios, en contraposición del GM. Todavía, en las pruebas de autonomía funcional, los grupos (GM y GC) mantuvieron los tiempos conquistados en las 12 semanas de entrenamiento; lo que demuestra que la autonomía funcional puede ser mantenida con actividades del cotidiano. Concluyese que el entrenamiento de fuerza muscular, además de mejorar diversas funciones biológicas, demuestra que las ganancias podrán mantenerse por 8 semanas con trabajo reducido y La autonomía se mantiene por el mismo tiempo en El desentrenamiento.

Palabras clave: vejez, adaptación neurológica, entrenamiento contra resistencia, mantenimiento de fuerza y autonomía.


INTRODUCTION

Decisively, individuals above 60 years lose much of the functional capacity due to the loss of skeletal muscle mass (sarcopenia), especially, the type II fibers (Rosenberg, 1997, quoted by Marcell, 2003). These fibers are replaced by fat and conjunctive tissue and, therefore, this selective loss will favor the reduction of strength and power. The accumulation of diseases and the medication use produce side effects which also reduce the functional capacities. The hormone reduction can, for instance, favor the accumulation of body fat mass, because they induce the reduction of daily physical activities of the elder, the consequence is that they stop using their muscles, increasing still more the strength and power-related problems. In this case, women are more affected because of functional declines already noticed more drastically, which start about at the age of 50 (Craig, 2002). It is important to highlight that the training does not hinder the biological aging and the strength loss, however, it can minimize this loss and its impact on the elder’s daily life (Fleck and Kraemer, 1999; Enoka, 2000; Frontera, Hughes, Fielding, Fiatarone, Evans and Roubenoff, 2000; Wilmore and Costill, 2002). In studies with men aged on average 70 years, sarcopenia and muscular strength loss were significantly reduced by means of strength training (Trape, Williamson and Godard, 2002; Trape, 2003).

The longitudinal alterations in muscular strength differ between the sexes for determined muscular groupings as the elbow flexors and extensors with loss of 2% a decade for women and 12% for men (Hughes, Frontera, Wood, Evans et al, 2001). This difference is due to the different distribution in the arm muscles, it is smaller for women than for men. The consequence is that “women” have less potential to lose strength in this muscular grouping than “men.” However, these losses in the quadriceps are equivalent to each other with the mean of 14% and 16% per decade for knee extensors and flexors, respectively. In the study herein the muscular body mass reduced more for men, however it was not associated significantly to the change of strength, indicating other forms of contribution for these losses neurally and metabolically.

Some researchers have proposed some devices for loss or reduction of strength and power related to age and “detraining” such the: 1- musculoskeletal alterations; 2- accumulation of acute diseases; 3- drugs; 4- reduction of hormonal secretions; 5- disuse atrophy; 6- alterations in the nervous system (Fleck and Kraemer, 1999; Enoka, 2000; Oliveira and Furtado, 2002; Wilmore and Costill, 2002).

The increase of muscular strength was associated for a long period of time to the increase and size of muscular fiber (hypertrophy), which it is to some extent all wrong, because the great muscles have more strength than the smaller ones. However, not always the gains of strength are derived from his characteristics, for today it is known that the first gains of strength are neural adaptations to the movement and to the strength produced. These adaptations can be inhibitory-excitatory mechanism of protective nature (Enoka, 2000; Wilmore and Costill, 2002). Enoka (2000) affirms that “it is possible to gain some increase of strength without the adaptation in the muscle, but not without the adaptation in the nervous system.” Fiatarone et al (1990), Matsudo et al (2000) and Hãkkinen et al (2001), among others have confirmed in their studies the initial gains of strength by the neural adaptation.

Raso, Matsudo and Matsudo (2001) and Hakkinen and Komi (1983, quoted by FLECK and KRAMER, 1999) ratified the thesis of these researchers and added that the losses for “detraining” are also due to neural adaptation, indicating the needs for the constant work so that neural gains are maintained. In Raso’s study, Matsudo and Matsudo (2001), the negative effects were demonstrated with interruption of training for health elderly women in an exercise program with free weight and the confirmation of significant loss of strength, mainly in the 8th week of induced interruption. This loss is generally selective mainly in type II fibers both for men and women (Marcell, 2003). This becomes another factor for the movement and maintenance of daily activities for the elderly.

Considering the other aspects which would make it impossible for the elderly to train, which would be the minimum training for this individual not to lose strength and functional autonomy achieved in the counter-residence training? And for how long can be kept the daily-life activities or other physical activities in the work of maintenance with the reduction of weekly sessions of training, without adding more weights or any other extra loads? The studies indicated that for man the muscular strength was maintained in the previous work, bodybuilding, with only a weekly session for 24 weeks (Trape, Williamson and Godard, 2002; Trape, 2003).

The subject matter is to investigate whether the neural losses checked in studies of “detraining” would happen in these situations to elderly women after the training of counter resistance for 12 weeks and induced reduction for 8 weeks.

INSTRUMENTATION AND METODOLOGY

The research is experimental-oriented based on one control group and one experimental group, with interference in the equivalent variables, muscular strength and its maintenance, demonstrating the alterations occurred during the intervention in the situation of cause and effect (Thomas and Nelson, 2002). The bibliographic survey will support the themes related to muscular strength and its maintenance for elderly people. The individuals engaged in the experiment were previously informed about the whole training and the objective of the research, being committed freely and voluntarily to take part of the study herein.

Selection of the sample

The sample selection complied with the questionnaire referred the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire, PAR-Q, drawn by the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (ACSM, 2000), adapted to an elderly population aged equal or greater than 60 years so that they could be considered participants of it only those who were deemed as healthy, with exception of those who were sick.

This study was conducted with a group of thirty elderly women aged 60-79 years. Part of the components of this group does physical activity as hydrogymnastics at CEFET Campos and in “Club of the elderly”, in Campos dos Goytacazes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The individuals of the group of volunteers should be independent in their daily life activities and should never have taken part of the resistance training. The inclusion of criteria was defined as only female individuals and negative PAR-Q were accepted.

Instrumentation and task
For the research implementation, evaluations of MR (maximum repetition) and autonomy tests (walking for 10 meters, sitting and standing up from the chair in the ventral decubitus positions) were conducted.

The necessary instruments for training in the phase of acquisition and test were working-out equipment 45-degree leg press and extension and flexion of legs, supine position, high pulley for triceps curl and low pulley for biceps curl, belonging to the Estácio de Sá University, Campos dos Goytacazes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was decided not to make use of equipment with rings to avoid possible accidents. For the autonomy t test digital stopwatch was used.

MR test
The pieces of equipment used in the training were mandatory the same ones for the MR test (1 MR), which is the capacity which the muscle or muscle grouping has to perform the movement once, completely and precisely (Wilmore and Costill, 2002). The movement was dynamic and concentric. The biomechanical protocol of the movements used in the exercises was the same for pre-, post- and final training.

For the MR tests there was a period dedicated to the familiarization with the exercise in order to avoid some misunderstanding about the participants’ lack of experience (Ploutz-Snyder and Giamis, 2001). Two muscular grouping were tested – one exercise for the upper limbs and another one for the lower limbs – the day with an interval of 24 hours for the new test. The objective of it was to assess the MR, a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5 repetitions before the concentric failure and avoid that the fatigue of muscle could interfere in movement ability (Schlicht et al., 2001).

Autonomy tests of daily life activities (DLA)
The autonomy was evaluated by the tests “walking 10 meters” (W10m) alleged by de Sipilã et al (1996), “getting up from the seated position (GUSP), Guralnik et al (1994; 1995), and “getting up from ventral decubitus position (GUVDP) by Alexander et al (1997).

Task
After the MR and autonomy tests (W10m, GUSP and GUVDP) pre-training, the exercises were prescribed as follows: in the phase of strength acquisitions for neural adaptation in the 12 weeks or 24 sessions, the training for all sample participants belonging to the group of strength training (GST) (n = 30) consisted of exercises in bodybuilding equipment an air-conditioned room with regulated temperature of 22ºC, performed in two weekly sessions with the minimum interval of 48 hours, in three series (interval from 2 to 3 minutes between the series) of 8 repetitions with intensity equal to 60% of 1 MR in the first 4 training sessions, following the recommendations of ACSM (2000), starting to follow for 75% to 85% of MR pre-training. The speed was moderate and according to the users’ discretion who were instructed to decide the most comfortable pace as possible.

The exercises were alternated according to body segment, following the order of leg extension, supine position, 45 degree leg press, biceps curl, leg flexion and triceps curl. Each work-out session was followed by an eight-minute warming-up and a five-minute stretching at the final of it, about 30 to 40 minutes at maximum. The progressive overtraining of 5% was applied to adapt the stimulus to 8 MR for each exercise along the training (Fleck and Kraemer, 1999). All participants had an individual record in which their training and loads were recorded.

After the twelfth week of training, another 1 MR test was carried out to evaluate the neural gains of muscular strength. Afterwards the individuals were divided in two groups. One group underwent two sessions a week reduced to one, and was referred as maintenance group (MG) (n=16), keeping the series, repetitions and loads of the last session. The other group had the resistance training interrupted, working as control group (CG) (n=14). In this week, the autonomy tests were also carried out (W10m, GUSP and GUVDP).
After the eighth week of “detraining” and reduced training, the new autonomy test and 1 MR tests were carried out for the whole sample in order to evaluate the possibilities of strength maintenance and autonomy in one session a week with reduced loads according to study guidelines.

Statistical treatment
The data were studied by means of descriptive and inferential statistics making use of mean references and variances, analysis of parametric variance and correlations. The hypothesis which guides the study herein anticipates the possibility of strength maintenance and functional autonomy with reduced loads for session a week, as opposed to the CG, with significance of 5% (p<0.05). The results were shown in tables to make it easy for comprehension.



RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Results and discussion on the fat percentage
The descriptive results of the GST, MG and CG as regards the physical characteristics as age, BMI, fat percentage and by Baumgartner et al.’s protocol (1998) (F%) are shown in table 1.

The mean of fat percentage (F%) of GST 39.21?5.46 shows a limit classification for morbid obesity, according to ACSM. The mean BMI of 27.66 kg/m2 shown by the group falls in the overweight classification (Wilmore and Costill, 2002). The variances follow the normal distribution. It can be observed that the groups GST, MG and CG are similar.

It is obvious that the resistance training produces hypertrophy and strength in older people; however the effects of it on the body composition were not thoroughly explained. In the studies of Newton, Hãkkinen, Hãkkinen, McCoMRick, Volek and Kraemer (2002) with older individuals (aged 61-64 years), as the anthropometric measures remained unchanged and the fat percentage remained statistically insignificant for the resistance training three sessions a week during 10 weeks. In this study, the protocol is short and without theoretical basis for studies on the body composition.

Results and discussion of strength training (GST)

Descriptive results of the GST as regards the scores of maximum strength measured by means of the 1MR test in kg and percentage variation before starting the training (pre-test) and after 12 weeks of training (post-test) (cf. table 2).


According to the table 2, one can notice that the gain were impressive, however the greatest percentages of lower limbs are relevant as regards when an old person gets autonomy to move independently. The t test was conducted for paired observations, with level of significance of 5% to check the efficiency of strength gain for the GST (pre and post-test). As the results shown in table 3, the strength gains were significant (p<0.05) for all exercises. When the GST was divided in MG and CG, the very significance was obtained for both groups (pre and post-test) (cf. tables 4 and 5).


The protocol of this study - intensity of used load as well as the repetitions and weekly frequency – is in accordance with Willoughby (2003) which suggest workloads of 65% the 85% of 1 MR, with repetitions from 6 to 14 per exercise, 1-3 series per exercise and ideal frequency twice a week, because Staler et al.’s study (1996), the values 28.5% and 27% for 2-3 sessions per week, respectively were similar without the need of more days. The participants of this study obtained a mean and significant increase in the maximum strength, varying from 13.10% to 14.40% of 1MR for upper limbs and from 25.90% to 43.50% of 1MR for the lower limbs.

Later, the GST was divided in maintenance group (MG) and control group (CG).

Result of the training for mg and CG
As shown in the methodology section, the MG has training sessions reduced for one session a week, keeping the workload, series and repetitions of the last session. From the 12th week, this group was submitted to an evaluation for the post-training and, after 8 weeks of training reduction up to the final evaluation. The CG did not perform any type of training with workloads for 8 weeks and was submitted to the same evaluations.

Na table 6, descriptive results were shown for both groups as regards the scores of maximum strength, measured by the 1MR test in the pre- and post-training, with percentage variation of maintenance and loss of strength in the final test.


It is observed that for the MG all variables were kept in the final test, with slight decrease in the supine (-0.5 %) and triceps (-0.9 %), however besides maintaining the achieved strength in the training of 12 weeks, a small gain of strength in the exercises was observed. This increase has not much statistical significance, but it is relevant because it is about the maintenance of muscular strength achieved in the previous work. The variables, leg extension, leg flexion and leg press, had the best results. In the study herein, lower limbs were gained more strength (41.6% for leg extension, 44.6% for leg press and 28% for leg flexion) and, also, the ones which were able to retain muscular strength impressively and add gains to the previous work for extensor, flexor and leg press (+5.2%, +0.8% and +9.3%, respectively).

Differently from the MG, the CG had impressive losses in the final test final, however the greatest losses concentrate on the lower limbs with -17.6% for leg extension , -13.0% for leg press and -12.8% for leg flexion. This more accentuated loss can be explained by greater gains obtained by these muscles in relation to the upper limbs in the 12 weeks of strength training, therefore losing more. The values herein, according to Landers et al’s studies (2001), which compared young women with old ones and found that the latter lost more strength relative to body weight in the lower limbs.

To calculate the significance of the experiment, the t test of arithmetic differences was applied. It was observed that the MG did not have relevant alterations from the maximum strength in the test after 8 weeks of training reduction in all exercises, opposed to the CG, which lost strength in 1 MR test. Six variables — leg flexion, supine, leg press, biceps, leg flexion and triceps — had some differences in the experiment, followed the normal distribution for the post-test, however in the final test, the groups were different with level of significance within the established parameters (p<0.05) for this experiment. Nevertheless, in the final test, the variable triceps did not achieve the established level of significance (p<0.05), but a p value closer to what was established was observed; therefore it is likely that a decrease would achieve the level of significance of 5%, if the detraining kept for an extra week. But, out of six exercises, only this only did not live up to the expectations, even so, the values found are closer to the significance.



Discussion of results relative to maintenance and loss of strength for the groups MG AND CG after 8 weeks of reduction and detraining for strength training

For older adult to maintain the strength and the size of the muscles is essential for an independent life with quality. For young athletes, the maintenance of muscular strength for 6 weeks or even for longer periods of times was noticed, with reduced trainings for a session every 10 or 14 days, as long as the intensity is enough to retain this strength (Wilmore and Costill, 2002).

In this sense, Trappe, Williamson and Godard (2002) studied the “detraining” on 10 older men for 24 weeks, and noticed that a session a week was enough to maintain strength and muscular mass after a training program of 12 weeks and three sessions. These authors affirmed that in the first weeks of detraining, the loss of strength is greatly caused by neural mechanisms in relation to the muscular atrophy contributing for additional loss as the detraining goes on. In this study, the individuals were women only and, similarly to men, they were able to maintain the achieved strength in the previous work for more 8 weeks, using the last workload with significant results. This is relevant for the elderly on the grounds that the muscles are useful and important for movement.
The social implication such as time management, costs and compliance with the training for elderly populations are remarkably important (Trappe, Williamson and Godard, 2002), due to the fact that the work done once a week seems to be efficient, according to the study herein, maintaining the muscular strength and some possibility of reducing the number of falls and accidents deriving from lack of physical conditioning.

Result of the autonomy tests (DLA) for the GST, MG and CG

Descriptive results of the functional autonomy tests: GUSP, GUVDP and W10m for DLA for the pre- and post-test of GST and the results for the groups MG and CG. (cf. table 8)



By analyzing table 8, an inverse relation between the strength gains and the times for the autonomy tests for the groups GST, MG and CG, in the pre and post-test was observed. For further information, table 9 shows the percentage variation for all tests in different phases. The percentages of improvement for the autonomy tests in the pre- and post-test test can be observed, and the maintenance for the MG and CG in the final test. Table 10 indicates the efficiency of strength gain in the pre- and post-test, for these three tests (GUSP, GUVDP and W10m) for all groups. The t test was applied for paired observations with significance of 5%.

By observing table 10, it was noticed that the groups presented differently as regard the significance in the GUSP test. The GST (n= 30) had significance, however when this group was divided into MG (n= 16) and CG (n= 14), the results were not significant in this test. This may be consequence of the sample reduction, however the sample total will be considered as significant, i.e., the GST group.

The best times found in it, for the GST group, can be explained by means of an improvement of the posture and balance control (Ringsberg et al, 2001), on the grounds that the strength gains are followed by a greater neural voluntary activation, and therefore the development of neuromuscular functions (Häkkinen et al, 2001).

Result of the correlation between exercises and autonomy tests for the GST

To investigate the linear relation between the variable muscular strength for each exercise, with the times for the autonomy tests, Pearson’s coefficient was used. To check the significance to the level of 5% the value of the coefficient of correlation for the sample, the "t test for the correlation coefficient" was used. The correlation was carried out only for the exercises in which the worked muscles were important for fulfillment of the test. In this way, it was correlated GUSP with leg press and leg extension; GUVDP with leg extension; leg press, supine and triceps and W10m with leg extension; leg press and leg flexion.

The table 11 shows the correlation of strength developed in the leg press and leg extension with or GUSP test and or t test for correlation coefficient. A tendency of negative correlation of muscular strength of the leg press and leg extension exercises with time of fulfillment of the GUSP test was observed, however this correlation had little significance.



The table 12 shows the correlation of strength developed in the leg extension, supine, leg press and triceps with or test GUVDP and or t test correlation coefficient. A tendency of negative correlation of muscular strength of the leg press, leg extension exercises and supine with time of fulfillment of the GUSP test was observed, however this did not occur for the triceps which, opposing to the expectations, had a negative correlation. In no variable there was significance for correlation.



The table 13 shows the correlation of strength developed in the leg extension, leg press and leg flexion in relation to the W10m test and t test for the correlation coefficient. A tendency of negative correlation of muscular strength of the leg extension, leg press and leg flexion exercises with time of fulfillment of the W10am test was observed, without significance for the correlation between the variables and the time of fulfillment of the test.



Discussion on the correlation of strength developed in the exercises with the times of the autonomy tests for the GST
Analyzing the data in the tables 11, 12 and 13, it is possible to infer that there is a tendency of negative correlation of strength gains with smaller times in the autonomy tests. However, this correlation had no significance for any of the exercises, what was not expected to some extent, because other studies such Geraldes’s (2000), in which straight supine had significant correlation with the GUVDP test , and Kwon, Oldaker, Schrager, Talbot et al.’s (2001), relating the strength in the knee extensor with walk, they go against the findings as regards the significance of this study.

These findings should be seen carefully, as it is not possible to reach any final answer, because most individuals involved in the study were already active and, therefore, they were independent and the strength gains did not correlate significantly to the times of the autonomy test. Further studies prove to be necessary before reaching to a final answer about this matter

Discussion on the results of the autonomy test for the GST

Throughout the aging process, women are particularly more vulnerable to lack of physical aptitude on the grounds that they have an initial reserve of smaller muscular mass in relation to mean mainly due to the anabolic hormones (Fiatorone, 2002). In this context, there is a relation to the loss of muscular strength, autonomy and independence, what leads the elderly women to have important functional losses such as walk velocity, capacity of going upstairs, getting up from a chair gaining the balance after stumbling, which may be retarded by exercising consistently as suggested by Frontera et al. (2000).

Walks and aerobic exercises are highly recommended, however the capacity of physical exercise and autonomy will not be maintained only with these activities. In certain cases, these activities are even not recommended, for example, in the case of people with high risk of falls, because these individuals need strength work to overtrain the muscles and prevent sarcopenia. (Fiatorone, 2002).

The effect of strength training in individuals aged 70-84 years was strongly related to the fall prevention, to the improvement of mobility and fulfillment of daily activities. In this way, the elderly become more active and independent (Stephenson, 2002; Braunstein, 2003 and Ringsberg et al, 2001) because the neuromuscular functions are preserved and enhanced, obtaining a preventive effect against aging-related problems (Silva and Matsuura, 2002). In accordance with these authors, Ringsberg et al. (2001) in longitudinal studies (20 years) pointed out some significant reduction of fall risk in active people mainly because of the improvement of neuromuscular functions. Gill (2002) noticed some improvement up to 45% in daily activities for individuals who had work of strength, opposed to the GC who did not do any physical activity. In this way, this kind of work retards the problems related to aging.

In this study, when compared to the sedentary of Pereira et al.’s study (2003) the evidences about the benefits of keeping active are greater, while in the fulfillment of autonomy test autonomy, the sedentary obtained times in seconds equal to13.71 and 29.57 for W10m, 18.86 and 20.21 for GUSP and 6.36 and 10 for GUVDP. In this study times were recorded in seconds equal to 6.50, 10.78 and 3.77 for W10m, GUSP and GUVDP, respectively, all were pretty smaller and significant.

Kwon, Oldaker, Schrager, Talbot et al. (2001) found out that the strength of knee extensor was related negatively to time of walk for women. This suggests that is necessary to perform strength training for these populations on the grounds that women have small body complexion so they may be more vulnerable to face difficulties in walking as ages advances.

It was checked the tendency of negative correlation of the effects of strength training in the exercises of leg extension, leg press (quadriceps) and leg flexion (posterior thigh), with the velocity of walk reaching the mean of 7.27 seconds in the pre-test, reducing to 6.50 seconds in the post-test, reinforcing other studies with older adults (Moreland et al. 2003; Schlicht, Camaione and Owen 2001).

The results hereto found with the W10m test is equivalent to other studies which carried out resistance training such as localized muscular resistance (Aragão, 2002), with times of 7 seconds, and strength training (Geraldes, 2000; Hauer et al., 2002; Schlicht et al. 2001 and Vale et al, 2003), with times ranging from 5.6 to 5.35 seconds. At the end of the experiment, the GST reached 6.50 seconds for the W10m test was significant, according to the results of the t test for comparisons of the means with strength gains. These times are equivalent to the act of crossing safely a crossroad on foot, what bring autonomy for the elderly without the need of company.

In the studies of Schot et al. (2003), an important correlation was noticed for the GUSP test after a three-series strength training of 7-10 repetitions with approximate intensity of 80% of 1MR and three sessions per week. The velocity of the GUSP test increased, with significant reduction in the time of performance of the post-test. This reduction also occurred in other studies (Aragão, 2002; Hauer et al. 2002 and Schlicht et al. 2001) with resistance training. The results of these studies are similar to the ones obtained by this very study in relation to the GUSP test, with times of 10.78 seconds for the GST.

A tendency of negative correlation was checked between the strength gains strength for these exercises leg extension and leg press with this test. These times suggest that the individuals of it can sit down and stand up by themselves without the help of somebody else.

In the autonomy test GUVDP, the results for the GST were significant, with times of 3.77 seconds of mean, and had a tendency of negative correlation with strength gains in the exercises straight supine, leg extension and leg press. These finding were similar to the ones of other studies, for example, Geraldes’s studies (2000), with time of 4.1 seconds, that although the LDD has been used, an inverse and significant correlation for the straight supine was found.

Additionally, Aragão (2002) found the same positive result for this test with training of localized muscular resistance, while Vale et al. (2003) on a work of strength found similar answers with 2.54 seconds. For the sedentary, the times were quite worse: 6.36 to 10 seconds (Pereira et al, 2003), showing the importance of physical activity for older people. This test indicates that the individuals are able to lie down and getting up from bed by themselves.

The practice of physical activity is recommended during the whole life as a way of prevention and the effect of strength training on seventy-five-year-old women was strongly related to the preservation of the high bone mineral density and low risk of fracture (Gerdhem, 2003), besides preventing efficiently the falls in people aged 70-84 years (Stephenson, 2002; Braunstein, 2003 and Ringsberg et al, 2001). As a consequence, the elderly become more active and, therefore, have minimized their dependence in relation to others as well as increased their autonomy for daily activities.

Result and discussion on the MG and CG
The results of the tests of functional autonomy for DLA for the MG and CG for the duly comparisons in the post- and final test are shown (cf. table 14)

Analyzing the table 14, it was observed that the groups (MG and CG) reached the final autonomy test (GUSP, GUVDP and W10m) without significant change, because the t calculated value is smaller than the absolute value of the lower or upper critical value. It can be also be analyzed by the p value, greater than the level of significance (p<0.05). In this manner, one cannot rule out the null hypothesis for the autonomy tests.

The MG had an impressive improvement in relation to the times of performance of the tests. In addition, it was observed that the means of times for the W10m, GUVDP and GUSP tests did not reduce significantly, indicating that once preserved the muscular strength, the gains for DLA will be kept, reinforcing to some extent the hypothesis of this study. The results suggest the autonomy can be maintained for long periods of reduced training.

However, it was observed that the CG, although it had reduced the time of performance of the tests with the interruption of strength training, these were not significant (for p<0.05) and, unexpectedly, it maintained the achieved gains, which would go against the hypothesis raised by this study that there would be similar losses to those found in the strength (MR). Nevertheless, based on the reports and as speculated by Raso et al (2001) and Gill (2002), this may be occurred due to a likely increase of voluntary physical activity. This fact may partially explain the greater capacity of maintenance of the times achieved in the post-tests. In this way, the autonomy for CG can be maintained for eight weeks with several physical activities deriving mainly from greater mobility, with non-controled, indirect work, and thus as the MG did in relation to the interference of the reduced training. However, this cannot be considered a disadvantage for the study, once the strength resistance training was efficient because it improves the functional autonomy for the GST and keep it for the MG and CG. This suggests that positive effect of training can last for over 8 weeks.

CONCLUSION

According to the findings, one can conclude that GST composed of elderly women aged over 60 years obtained significant correlation (p<0.05) between the levels of maximum strength, functional autonomy in DLA. The experimental groups (MG and CG, composed of elderly women of the GST showed different patterns of behavior when compared in the 1MR and autonomy tests. MG individuals were able to maintain the strength (p<0.05) for a period of 8 weeks with reduced training for once a week with workloads equal to that of the last session of strength training for 12 weeks. When compared intergroups, it was noticed that the CG were not able to maintain the strength as proportionate as for the MG, with significant losses. These results indicate that the strength achieved by neural adaptation can be preserved for longer period of reduced training, providing the users with time management guidance for the promotion of compliance.

The individuals reported that they would get on the bus easily, clean the house without tiring themselves as previously said, walk better, be stronger to get up from the armchair or bed and fall less or stopped falling after the strength training. It was also observed, besides the strength development and reduction of times for the pre- and post-tests of autonomy, the perception of exertion were clearly reduced, reinforcing Ades’s (1996) and Kevin’s studies (2001).

However, when the experiment groups were compared in the autonomy tests at the end of the experiment, in order to prove the hypothesis that they would lose proportionately to the absolute strength losses, surprisingly the differences were not significant. This result as speculated by Raso et al (2001) and Gill (2002) indicates that the increase of voluntary physical activity would explain the greater capacity of retention of times achieved in the final test of autonomy, although for the MR tests the losses of absolute strength have been significant. In this manner, it is likely that daily life activities may be kept for 8 weeks with other physical activities linked to day-to-day’s individuals, without necessarily resistance training. One can infer that the individuals in this study gained life quality once from an axiological standpoint, the increase of muscular strength provide them with pleasure in leading their lives actively, independently, without depriving them of their mobility.

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