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Strength Training for Older Adults

Improve Your Health

Seniors of all ages and physical situations can benefit from regular strength training. Fran, 69, of Charlotte, NC, literally stumbled into the benefits of strength training. Years ago, she tripped over a bedspread and twisted her knee badly enough to need medical attention. During rehab, she was given a set of weight-based exercises to help strengthen her leg muscles and speed her recovery. Fran had always been active, but she noticed an improvement after following the new regimen.

As Fran experienced, strength training can boost your health in many ways. Some examples include:

Focus on Your Muscles

A strength-training routine should include the major muscles in your body. These muscles are found in your arms, legs, chest, back, and abdomen. You may think that your daily activities are enough to work these muscle groups, but a strength-training routine is designed to target certain muscles and push them to become stronger. Here are some examples of exercises to build-up certain muscles:

Getting Started

Take the following steps before beginning a strength training program:

When you are ready to exercise, keep these basic principles in mind:


American Council on Exercise

National Institute on Aging


Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology

Healthy Canadians


20 frequently asked questions. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/exercise-physical-activity-your-everyday-guide-national-institute-aging/20. Updated January 13, 2016. Accessed January 20, 2016.

Chapter 5: active older adults. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter5.aspx. Updated October 16, 2008. Accessed January 20, 2016.

Sample exercises: strength. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/exercise-physical-activity/sample-exercises-strength. Updated May 2011. Accessed January 20, 2016.

Why strength training? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/growingstronger/why/index.html. Updated February 24, 2011. Accessed January 20, 2016.

Last reviewed January 2016 by Michael Woods, MD  Last Updated: 2/19/2014