Chronic Eccentric Exercise and the Older Adult

A. Gluchowski, N. Harris, D. Dulson, J. Cronin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eccentric exercise has gained increasing attention as a suitable and promising intervention to delay or mitigate the known physical and physiological declines associated with aging. Determining the relative efficacy of eccentric exercise when compared with the more conventionally prescribed traditional resistance exercise will support evidence-based prescribing for the aging population. Thus, original research studies incorporating chronic eccentric exercise interventions in the older adult population were included in this review. The effects of a range of eccentric exercise modalities on muscular strength, functional capacity, body composition, muscle architecture, markers of muscle damage, the immune system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and rating of perceived exertion were all reviewed as outcomes of particular interest in the older adult. Muscular strength was found to increase most consistently compared with results from traditional resistance exercise. Functional capacity and body composition showed significant improvements with eccentric endurance protocols, especially in older, frail or sedentary cohorts. Muscle damage was avoided with the gradual progression of novel eccentric exercise, while muscle damage from intense acute bouts was significantly attenuated with repeated sessions. Eccentric exercise causes little cardiovascular stress; thus, it may not generate the overload required to elicit cardiovascular adaptations. An anabolic state may be achievable following eccentric exercise, while improvements to insulin sensitivity have not been found. Finally, rating of perceived exertion during eccentric exercise was often significantly lower than during traditional resistance exercise. Overall, evidence supports the prescription of eccentric exercise for the majority of outcomes of interest in the diverse cohorts of the older adult population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1413–1430
Number of pages18
JournalSports Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2015


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