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  • 75% of US Adults 45 and Older Not Meeting Strength Training Recommendations

    Only about one-quarter of US adults over 45 are meeting federal recommendations for strength training—and the percentages drop even lower in certain age and other demographic groups, according to a new study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Researchers for the CDC used data from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to examine the strength training activities of more than 333,000 adults 45 and over. What they found was that only 23.7% of the population met the US Department of Health and Human Services recommendation that adults 45 and older participate in activities targeting all major muscle groups at least 2 days per week.

    While no subgroup studied met the goal, variations did exist. Among those variations:

    • When compared with respondents 45-54 years old (26% compliance), individuals aged 55-64 were 10% less likely to meet strength training recommendations. The 65-74 age group was 8% less likely than the youngest cohort, and those aged 75-84 were about 20% less likely to meet the goals than the 45-54 group, with a compliance rate of 20.2%.
    • Normal-weight respondents (BMI of 18.5-24.9) met the recommendations at a 30.2% rate; overweight (BMI of 25-29.9) reported a 24.9% rate, obese individuals (BMI of 30 or more) reported a rate of 19.9%. Underweight individuals (BMI of 18.5 or below) reported a 24.2% compliance rate.
    • Females (21.9%) were less likely to meet the goals than males (25.9%).
    • College graduates had a 34.2% compliance rate, compared with an 18.5% rate among those with high school diplomas only and a 14.4% rate among respondents with less than a high school diploma.
    • Individuals with annual income over $50,000 complied at 30.6%, with rates declining as income declined. Those reporting income less than $15,000 per year only had a 16% compliance rate.

    "Our findings indicate that there continues to be a precipitous decline in participation in muscle strengthening activities associated with aging, and that this decline does not stop at age 65," authors write. "The information gained through this research could be used to help identify which sociodemographic subgroups are most in need [of intervention]."

    The importance of appropriate strength training was acknowledged in APTA's recently released list of "5 Things Physical Therapists and Patients Should Question" created as part of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation's Choosing Wisely® campaign. The list of APTA recommendations includes one that advises against under-dosed strength training for older adults, and instead promotes matching "frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise to the individual's abilities and goals."

    Research-related stories featured in PT in Motion News are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association's PTNow website.

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