Exercise Daily – The purpose of this Position Statement is to provide an overview of the current and relevant literature, evaluate exercise program variables, and provide evidence-based recommendations for resistance training for older adults. Current research has demonstrated that countering muscle disuse through resistance training is a powerful intervention to combat muscle strength loss, muscle mass loss (sarcopenia), physiological vulnerability (frailty), and their debilitating consequences on physical functioning, mobility, independence, chronic disease management, psychological well-being, and quality of life.
A list of 11 summary statements for effective resistance training in older adults is presented in 4 parts below. The goals of these recommendations are to (a) help foster a more unified and holistic approach to resistance training for older adults, (b) promote the health and functional benefits of resistance training for older adults, and (c) prevent or minimize fears and other barriers to implementation of resistance training programs for older adults.
Part 1: Resistance Training Program Variables
- 1. A properly designed resistance training program with appropriate instructions for exercise technique and proper spotting is safe for healthy, older adults.
- 2. A properly designed resistance training program for older adults should include an individualized, periodized approach working toward 2–3 sets of 1–2 multijoint exercises per major muscle group, achieving intensities of 70–85% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM), 2–3 times per week, including power exercises performed at higher velocities in concentric movements with moderate intensities (i.e., 40–60% of 1RM)
- 3. Resistance training programs for older adults should follow the principles of individualization, periodization, and progression.
Part 2: Positive Physiological Adaptations to Resistance Exercise Training in Older Adults
- 4. A properly designed resistance training program can counteract the age-related changes in contractile function, atrophy, and morphology of aging human skeletal muscle.
- 5. A properly designed training program can enhance the muscular strength, power, and neuromuscular functioning of older adults.
- 6. Adaptations to resistance training in older adults are mediated by neuromuscular, neuroendocrine, and hormonal adaptations to training.
Part 3: Functional Benefits of Resistance Exercise Training for Older Adults
- 7. A properly designed resistance training program can improve mobility, physical functioning, performance in activities of daily living (ADL), and preserve the independence of older adults.
- 8. A properly designed resistance training program can improve an older adult’s resistance to injuries and catastrophic events such as falls.
- 9. A properly designed resistance training program can help improve the psychosocial well-being of older adults.
Part 4: Considerations for Frailty, Sarcopenia, or other Chronic Conditions
- 10. Resistance training programs can be adapted for older adults with frailty, mobility limitations, cognitive impairment, or other chronic conditions.
- 11. Resistance training programs can be adapted (with portable equipment and seated exercise alternatives) to accommodate older adults residing in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.