If you train elderly clients, you’re aware that preventing falls is a key motivation for them to exercise. Now there’s news that the elderly can tolerate high-force eccentric strength training and that it can decrease their risk for falls, according to research in the May 2003 issue of The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences (vol. 58, pp. 419-24).

In the study’s experimental group, frail elderly subjects (average age 80) did 11 weeks of eccentric resistance training for the lower body on a high-force ergometer. A control group performed traditional lower-body weight training. While both groups increased muscle fibers, only the experimental group experienced significant improvements in strength (60 percent), balance (7 percent), and stair descent abilities (21 percent), all factors critical to fall prevention.