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In the study, 45 women in their mid-sixties participated in a 90-day lower body strength-training program, with three resistance exercise sessions per week. In addition, 15 of the women took 2 grams of fish oil per day during the program, and another 15 of the women took the same amount of fish oil, but started it 60 days before beginning the 90-day exercise period. The remaining group of 15 women took no fish oil.
In order to quantify changes in leg muscle strength and ability to perform physical tasks (functional capacity), special tests were done at the beginning and end of the study, which showed:
In general, taking fish oil supplements in the months prior to beginning the workout program did not enhance fish oil’s effect on strength building or functional capacity.
Since the control group did not take a placebo, the study results are not as strong as they might be, but still, “The main finding was that fish oil supplementation along with strength training improved the response of the neuromuscular system,” the study’s authors explained. “Fish oil may be an attractive supplement for the elderly to maximize their neuromuscular responses to strength training, which is important to life quality.”
Developing strength as we age has many benefits: more muscle and less fat means lower risk of some chronic diseases. Along with muscle, we also build stronger bones, and better core body strength makes us more stable and less likely to fall. And higher functional capacity preserves our quality of life. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are considering starting a strength-training program:
(Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:428–36)