Recommendations for a Therapeutic Approach for Improving Force Generation in Older Muscle
The first step in beginning an exercise program for older adults is to consult with a healthcare professional (physical therapist, nurse, and physician). To be successful, any exercise program must be effective, safe, and have some motivational appeal for the participant. To be effective and to achieve the physiologic benefits, an exercise routine must be of appropriate mode, duration, frequency, and intensity.
The resistance training protocol (according to the literature reviewed) that produced the greatest increases in muscle strength and attenuated atrophy to the greatest extent in older adults was three sets of eight repetitions of exercise performed at an intensity of 80% of a muscle's 1 RM, three days a week for 12 weeks. Training of older muscle can be initiated at an intensity of 50% to 60% of the muscle's 1 RM for one week and then increased to 80% of the muscle's 1 RM for the remainder of the training period. Throughout the training period, maximum training loads need to be reestablished on a regular basis.
In addition to the weight training, older adults should he instructed to include at least five to ten minutes of warm-up and cool-down exercises in their routine. Programs should be individually tailored to the needs and interests of participants. Any exercise routine which includes adequate warm-up and cool down periods, proper stretching exercises, and is designed to progress slowly in intensity is less likely to result in injuries. Older adults also should be instructed to exercise in well-lighted and un-crowded areas without noisy distractions.