MU Extension’s Stay Strong, Stay Healthy (SSSH) program aims to improve the health of the fastest-growing age group in the United States — older adults. The program was developed by University of Missouri Extension and Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology faculty in 2004 and has been successfully delivered through MU Extension. While SSSH participants across the state have long credited the program with improving both their strength and confidence, a University of Missouri research team set out in early 2019 to rigorously test whether the strength training program can really make a difference in the lives of older adults.
SSSH clearly did benefit older adults who participated in the program, found the interdisciplinary team comprising faculty and students from MU Extension, the Nutrition and Exercise Physiology department, the Mizzou Musculoskeletal Lab in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and the School of Health Professions Department of Physical Therapy. Program participants improved significantly in their strength, balance and sleep quality, the researchers determined. In addition, students gained valuable hands on experience in research and community outreach, serving as research assistants and exercise program instructors.