Fish oil boosts effects of strength training in older women

January 26, 2012

Fish oil supplements enhance the benefits of strength training in older women, a small Brazilian clinical trial suggests.

Fish oil supplements enhance the benefits of strength training in older women, a small Brazilian clinical trial suggests.

Researchers at Parana Federal University randomly assigned 45 healthy women (64 years of age ± 1.4 years) to one of three exercise groups: strengthening exercises 3 times a week for 90 days; the same regimen plus 2 g of fish oil per day starting the first day of exercise; and the same regimen plus 2 g of fish oil per day starting 60 days before beginning exercise. Muscle strength and functional capacity were evaluated before and after the exercise regimen. All groups showed increased muscle strength after 3 months of exercise, but the women who also took fish oil showed greater improvement in muscle strength and functional capacity and demonstrated changes in neural excitability in their muscles.

Length of supplementation didn’t affect improvements in strength or functional capacity, the authors observe. Women who took fish oil for an additional 60 days before beginning strength training showed no greater gains than those who took supplements only during the 90-day training period.

The study was published online January 4 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“These results should be viewed with caution because the participant numbers were relatively small,” the authors write. “Other studies involving a larger sample and other combinations of training and supplementation period are required.”

Nevertheless, they note, fish oil “may be an attractive supplement for the elderly to maximize their neuromuscular responses to strength training, which is important to life quality.”

Read other articles in this issue of Special Delivery.