Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Brothers Tatum

Did you know that even in our 90s we can reap tremendous benefits from strength and resistance training? That's what researcher Maria Fiatarone Singh concludes in a groundbreaking study of male nursing home residents that was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Simply by exercising on leg machines three times a week for 15 minutes each, the participants' average leg strength increased by more than 174 percent. Two of the men who had walked with canes no longer needed them. “The muscles of older people," Singh says, "are just as responsive to weight lifting as younger people's."

Two champion swimmers, Brad and John Tatum, are living proof that age is just a number. Both are preparing for next year’s National Senior Games in San Francisco. John, 89, won silver medals in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events in 2005. He hopes to medal in three events this time. His younger brother Brad, 87, medaled in five events that same year and broke several Senior Olympics records for his age group.

They have more competition than you might think.

Credits: The photo is from the Idaho Senior Games website. To read the Washington Post piece from which the above information was extracted, click here. You can also Google “M. A. F. Singh” to find some of the other interesting studies she's done on aging.


  1. Anonymous9:26 AM

    I've been thinking I need to get serious about my resistance training AGAIN. Your post spurred me on.


  2. Anonymous10:00 AM

    Great article. I've lagged the last few weeks (travel, sick kids), but now I'm motivated to get back in there now.

  3. This is so inspiring!!


  4. Thanks everyone. I was floored by the research. I'm not sure I conveyed how groundbreaking it really is. Part of why most people slow down as they age is because they believe their bodies are in decline. They don't realize that their muscles can stay strong, even in their 90's.

  5. That's my feeling, too. That common sense tells you excercise would continue to be beneficial. I've seen studies that say it's good for the brain, too.

    In fact, brain excercise is supposed to delay the onset of dementia. That's one reason I keep working at learning Spanish!

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

  6. Yes, I've read this, too, Carolyn. This same researcher has also done double-blind studies that showed that exercise has an antidepressive effect on the elderly. The thing I loved most in reading this was that it didn't take an insane amount of exercise to generate these effects.