There is nothing more important to the older population than having more years of physical self-sufficiency. Prior to starting a program of strengthening, you should have completed a health status questionnaire and assessed your relative muscular fitness.

INTENSITY: The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that, at a minimum, an adult individual should perform one set of eight to ten exercises for each of the major muscle groups of the body. Each set should involve ten (10) to fifteen (15) repetitions that elicit a perceived exertion rating of twelve (12) to thirteen (13), which is considered moderately difficult. However, for older, more frail persons (55 years of age and older), eight (8) to twelve (12) repetitions may be more appropriate. The selection of exercises should ensure that all the major muscle groups are included. Depending on an individual's personal capability, additional sets can be performed. Research conducted at the University of Florida and previous investigations at the United States Military Academy suggest that additional sets may have limited value, particularly for non-athletic populations.

FREQUENCY: ACSM recommends that strength training be performed at least twice a week, with at least 48 hours of rest between workouts. Research indicates that as an individual becomes older, increased time is needed for sufficient recovery from resistance stress imposed upon the body.

DURATION: It has been suggested that strength-training sessions lasting longer than 60 minutes may have a detrimental effect on exercise adherence. ACSM's guidelines suggest individual complete total-body strength-training sessions within 20 to 25 minutes.

Special Considerations: Regardless of the protocol adopted, several common sense guidelines pertaining to resistance training for older adults should be followed.