Exercise instructors are not consistently implementing the strength component of the UK chief medical officers' physical activity guidelines in their exercise prescription for older adults

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

Strength training recommendations have been embedded within the UK’s Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity guidelines since 2011. There is limited evidence that these recommendations are used by exercise instructors in the community to underpin strength training prescription in the older adult population. This study aimed to explore exercise instructors’ awareness and utilisation of the guidelines when prescribing strength training to older adults. Fifteen exercise instructors working with older adults in the UK participated in one online interview. A general inductive approach was conducted and thematic analysis allowed for major themes to be identified from the raw data. We found that most exercise instructors (n = 9), but not all (n = 6), were aware of the guidelines. Only one instructor (n = 1) had reportedly implemented the guidelines into their practice; other instructors reported that the guidelines were irrelevant. Instead, each of the instructors had their preferred sources of information that they relied on to underpin their exercise prescription, and each had their own interpretation of ‘evidence-based strength training.’ This individualised interpretation resulted in exceptionally varied prescription in the community and does not necessarily align with the progressive, evidence-based prescription known to build muscular strength. We suggest that (i) more detail on how to build muscular strength be embedded within the guidelines, (ii) a handbook on how to implement the guidelines be made available, (iii) theoretical and practical teaching materials and courses be updated, and/or (iv) a re-(education) of exercise instructors already in the field may be necessary to bring about a consistent, evidence-based strength prescription necessary for the best possible health and longevity outcomes for our ageing population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages2432
Number of pages12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Ageing
  • Government
  • Policy
  • Recommendations
  • Resistance training

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