Resistance Training Lowers Markers of Inflammation in Older Adults
Resistance training has been shown to reduce mortality in older adults. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue, and one of the mechanisms by which this mortality reduction is realized may be via lowered chronic inflammation. Old age is characterized by a rising level of inflammation, a reaction to molecular damage, the presence of senescent cells, and growing dysfunction of the immune system. As noted here, the balance of evidence from numerous studies shows a reduction in inflammatory signaling resulting from this form of exercise.
Exercise and weight control have been suggested as methods for mitigating the negative effects of chronic inflammation. Proper exercise has a dual effect in reducing chronic inflammation via weight reduction and lowering adipokines in cells. Resistance training (RT), a strength training exercise involving progressive overload in which the muscles exert force against an external load, could be a safe and effective method of improving chronic low-grade inflammation in older individuals.
A previous study reported that RT was associated with anti-inflammatory effects by decreasing serum levels of IL-6 and CRP, in addition to inducing changes in TNF-α gene expression in elderly women. However, another study suggested that RT was not related to TNF-α, IL-6, IL-10, and CRP improvement. As a result, an integrated and clear conclusion on the effects of RT in the elderly is currently unavailable. The purpose of this review was to critically examine the effects of RT on chronic low-grade inflammation in elderly adults through a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
We included studies that assessed the effect of RT on C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α in those aged ≥60 years. The effect size was estimated using fixed or random-effects models. Subgroup analysis was performed regarding age, health status, training method, number of exercises, intensity, weekly frequency, and duration. In the 18 randomized controlled trials (539 patients) included, RT was effective in alleviating CRP, IL-10, and TNF-α in elderly adults and tended to reduce IL-6. Subgroup analyses showed CRP reduction regardless of age, training method, number of exercises, intensity, weekly frequency, and duration. RT can be used to ameliorate chronic low-grade inflammation in elderly adults.
I am glad that there is increasing evidence of exercise being considered a sophisticated 'intervention' as one ages, or more precisely 'with time, all other things equal' (which is what I wish this site would state instead of the term 'aging'). As with nutrition, you are what you eat - would be: you are how you exercise. Going above and beyond simply exercise as 'using up calories' or 'maintaining a minimum strength level' into a focussed and intensive plan of exercise including resistance, flexibility, and cardio. I believe that this would foster the belief that a completely sedentary person is a fundamentally different creature than an intensely active person (read: not a person who simply walks regularly, nor one who competes at an elite level sport, but in-between). An exercising person, and further one who has been regular over several years if not decades, would have very different system characteristics, from the cellular level to the interacting organs. It would be more than just a spectrum of health and functionality but an 'adapted efficiency' which provides a recurring health benefit going beyond 'damage control' to minimizing damage and rapidly circulating the repair/ optimization of such repair. Grand claims, to be sure. But if you refer to sports medicine journals, you will find the type of 'conditions' that moderate athletes overcome with time, all else being equal, they are very different pathologies than others of the same chronological state. Certainly worth investigating -- though I do believe that starting this behaviour in your teens/ twenties makes a significant difference in how optimized one is later in life and was able to handle and continue to handle damage.
Don't use it, ya lose it.