Resistance Exercise for the Aging Adult: Clinical Implications and Prescription Guidelines

  • Mark D. Peterson
    Laboratory for Physical Activity and Exercise Intervention Research, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
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  • Paul M. Gordon
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Paul M. Gordon, PhD, MPH, Laboratory for Physical Activity and Exercise Intervention Research, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan, 325 E. Eisenhower, Suite 300, Ann Arbor, MI 4810846202
    Laboratory for Physical Activity and Exercise Intervention Research, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    Search for articles by this author


      Sarcopenia and weakness are known to precipitate risk for disability, comorbidity, and diminished independence among aging adults. Resistance exercise has been proposed as a viable intervention to elicit muscular adaptation and improve function. However, the reported prevalence of resistance exercise participation among US adults aged >50 years is very low. This may be largely attributable to inconsistency in study results that fail to fully inform the clinical and public health community of its overall value. Therefore, the purpose of this commentary review is to report the findings of recently published meta-analyses that systematically examined the overall value of resistance exercise among healthy aging adults for strength and lean body mass outcomes. Evidence reveals that not only is resistance exercise very effective for eliciting strength gain and increases in lean body mass, but that there is a dose-response relationship such that volume and intensity are strongly associated with adaptations. These findings reflect and support the viability of progression in resistance exercise dosage to accommodate optimal muscular adaptive response. Progressive resistance exercise should thus be encouraged among healthy adults to minimize degenerative muscular function associated with aging.


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