Exercise and vitamin D combo may be best for older adults
A combination of resistance exercises and vitamin D supplements may boost older adults’ muscle strength more effectively than exercise alone, suggests the first study of its kind. There’s no doubt that resistance exercise can slow or stave off muscle wasting or muscle weakness with the consequent risk of loss of mobility and independence in older age, say the authors. But it’s also clear that older adults don’t respond as well to strength training as their younger peers.
The authors wanted to settle the question of whether the addition of a vitamin D supplement might enhance the beneficial effects of exercise. They pooled the data from seven relevant randomised controlled trials involving a total of 792 people aged 65+. The trials compared a combination of vitamin D supplements and resistance exercises with either vitamin D (group 1) or exercise (group 2) alone to see which intervention might have the greatest impact on musculoskeletal health.The data analysis showed that leg muscle strength improved significantly more in those given the combination treatment than in those doing exercise alone. But there was no added benefit beyond that derived from exercise training by itself for other indicators of musculoskeletal health.
These included a group of measures combining the results of gait speed, chair stand, and balance tests, known as short physical performance battery or SPPB; and the TUG test—the time taken to get up from a chair, walk three metres, turn around, walk back to the chair, and sit down. Vitamin D supplementation by itself didn’t seem to boost muscle strength, the data analysis showed. But there weren’t enough relevant studies on which to base any firm conclusions, or make firm recommendations, caution the researchers.
Source: Antoniak AE, Greig CA. The effect of combined resistance exercise training and vitamin D3 supplementation on musculoskeletal health and function in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open 2017 doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014619