Evidence Summary

What is an Evidence Summary?

Key messages from scientific research that's ready to be acted on

Got It, Hide this
  • Rating:

Elastic resistance training is effective for improving muscle strength in older adults

Martins WR, de Oliveira RJ, Carvalho RS et al.  Elastic resistance training to increase muscle strength in elderly: A systematic review with meta-analysis.  Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2013; 57(1):8-15

Review question

Does elastic resistance training increase muscle strength among older adults?


Decrease in muscle strength is common among older adults, and can increase frailty and related health risks.  Physical activity – including strength training to build muscle - has been shown to improve older adults’ ability to perform activities of daily living, and reduce the risk of falling.  Elastic resistance training uses elastic materials in the shape of bands or tubes to help increase strength and build muscle.  These low-cost, portable tools are a practical alternative to exercise machines.

How the review was done

This is a summary of 10 randomized clinical trials and one non-randomized trial. The studies included 834 people aged 60 to 79.  

Interventions included training programs using elastic resistance that focused on muscle strengthening. The review compared participants’ strength before and after taking part in the interventions. Elastic resistance training programs varied in duration from six to 24 weeks with participants training at least once a week.

What the researchers found

While the results varied across studies, elastic resistance training appeared to increase muscle strength in healthy older adults as well as older adults with some functional incapacity. The interventions were less effective for those with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Elastic resistance training can be recommended for older adults who want to improve muscle strength.


Clinical trials
Studies where people are assigned to one of the treatments but not purely by chance.

Related Web Resources

  • After a stroke: Does fitness training improve health and mobility?

    Informed Health Online
    Fitness training after a stroke can improve physical fitness and mobility, but can require a lot of effort and motivation. Examples of fitness training include Nordic walking, treadmills, or exercise bikes.
  • Too fit to fracture: Managing osteoporosis through exercise

    Osteoporosis Canada
    If you have osteoporosis, it is recommended to exercise regularly. A physical therapist or kinesiologist can give you advice on what type of exercise is best for you. You should do a combination of strength, posture, balance, and aerobic exercise.
  • Physical activity and cancer

    National Cancer Institute
    Physical activity can lower your chance of getting cancer. Exercise moderately for at least 2.5 hours every week. Exercise may also help improve your quality of life if you are a cancer survivor.
DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (info@mcmasteroptimalaging.org).

Register for free access to all Professional content

Want the latest in aging research? Sign up for our email alerts.

Support for the Portal is largely provided by the Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative. AGE-WELL is a contributing partner. Help us to continue to provide direct and easy access to evidence-based information on health and social conditions to help you stay healthy, active and engaged as you grow older. Donate Today.

© 2012 - 2020 McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8 | +1 905-525-9140 | Terms Of Use