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Preprint / Version 2

Exercise instructors in the UK are not using the physical activity guidelines to inform their strength prescription with older adults


  • Ashley Gluchowski University of Manchester
  • Helena Bilsborough
  • Jane Mcdermott
  • Helen Hawley-Hague
  • Chris Todd



Resistance Exercise, Resistance Training, policy, public health, ageing, aging


Strength 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 prescription in the older adult population. This study aimed to explore exercise instructors’ 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 to allow for major themes to be identified from the raw data. We found that most exercise instructors, but not all, were familiar with the guidelines. Only one of 15 instructors had reportedly implemented the guidelines into their practice; other instructors reported that the guidelines were irrelevant. The interviewees each had their preferred sources of information that they relied on to underpin their 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 details on how to build muscular strength within the guidelines, ii) a handbook on how to implement the guidelines, iii) an update to theoretical and practical teaching materials and courses, 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 that would be required for the best possible outcomes for our ageing population.


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2022-12-19 — Updated on 2022-12-21