Older adults approximately to undergo elective surgery will have to undertake a sustained programme of targeted exercise beforehand to counteract the muscle-wasting effects of bedrest, new research suggests.
A study published by researchers in the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences showed that short term ‘prehabilitation’ strength exercises, undertaken pre-surgery, are inadequate to prevent muscle loss.
In the study, the researchers asked a group of older adults to perform four sessions of weight lifting exercise over one week. The participants did the exercises the use of only one leg, while the other leg did no exercise at all.
After completing the prehabilitation, the participants underwent five days of bed-rest – a typical length of stay in hospital for an older patient.
Even though the researchers expected to find that the leg which had undergone the exercise would experience less muscle loss than the other leg, if truth be told they found muscle loss was once approximately the same in both legs.
The team’s detailed analysis showed that, while short-term exercise prehabilitation does toughen the body’s muscle-building processes, thigh muscle-wasting was once approximately 3-4 per cent in both legs – more or less equivalent to what older adults would most often lose over 3-5 years of ageing.
The researchers recommend that one approach to offer protection to older muscle from wasting all over hospitalisation is to perform longer-term strength exercise prehabilitation beforehand.
“Even though short-term prehabilitation offers a cost-effective and easy-to-implement strategy, it does not prevent muscle wasting among older adults undergoing bed-rest,” Dr Leigh Breen, the study’s corresponding writer, said.
“This muscle loss could also be extremely tough to recuperate from and may end up in long-term health and disease complications,” added Breen.
The team recommend that prehabilitation exercise programmes will have to also incorporate aerobic exercise alongside strength training to offer protection to cardiovascular health, and a protein rich diet to increase muscle mass levels in a way that will effectively cancel out the muscle loss that is experienced all over bed-rest
They also recommend that, where appropriate and protected, hospitalised older patients will have to aim to receive back on their feet and mobile again as quickly as conceivable.
Post-surgery exercise and dietary strategies can also be important to make sure a return to full health and lower the risk of future health complications.
Dr Benoit Smeuninx, now at Monash University in Australia, is lead writer on the paper.
“Our study reinforces the need for more research into the advantages of longer term training programmes prior to surgery. In the same was once as an athlete would train before a race or a competition, exercise training before hospitalisation is likely to be highly recommended to older adults undergoing elective surgeries,” He said.
The work was once completed in collaboration with colleagues inside the Medical Research Council As opposed to Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research, which is a partnership between the University of Birmingham and the University of Nottingham.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)
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