Dot Prater is in month five of a year-long study to determine if Vitamin D combined with Hydroxymethylbutyrate, or HMB, leads to greater gains during resistance training.
"I know my body mass index has decreased, but I see it in strength," says Prater. "Now, if my husband and I are moving a table I say, 'Oh, honey I can help you.'"
Prater decided to take part in the study after she was sidelined by foot surgery for a year and a half.
"I knew that I was either at a place in my life where I was going to get sludgy and fatter and more sedentary and ill, or I could turn it around and get my rear in gear."
Getting the "rear in gear" is good advice for just about anyone. But research shows exercise, especially strength training, is even more important as we age.
"Statistics show on average we start losing about 1 percent of muscle mass per year, starting at about age 50," says Rick Sharp, professor of Kinesiology at Iowa State University.
The clinical term for that muscle loss is Sarcopenia. Sharp says over time that muscle loss ads up and can lead to loss of mobility, balance and eventually independence.
This study is an offshoot from an earlier study at ISU, testing only HMB and its effectiveness at promoting muscle mass during strength training.
"Those people who did not respond very well had one thing in common, and that was low Vitamin D levels," says Sharp.
As a result, researchers want to know if HMB combined with Vitamin D is the key to keeping and building muscle mass. In addition to taking the supplements, participants like Prater perform about a dozen strength exercises three time a week.
Prater says she can already see, and more importantly feel, a difference.
"I’m just seeing an overall sense of well-being as well as feeling more strength all over... I would encourage anyone to see if they qualify for it."
ISU researchers are still accepting applicants for the study. To find out if you qualify, call 877-578-8848.