Evidence Summary

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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.

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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 (

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