Review Articles

Coming of Age: Considerations in the Prescription of Exercise for Older Adults



Older adults represent the fastest-growing age demographic of the population. Physiological changes associated with primary aging and concurrent chronic disease adversely impact functional capacity, health outcomes, and quality of life. For these reasons, there is a national emphasis for healthcare providers to improve the health, function, and quality of life of older adults to preserve independent living and psychological well-being. The benefits of regular physical activity or exercise with regard to aging and disease are indisputable, yet many clinicians do not prescribe exercise to older adults. This reluctance may be attributable to a lack of knowledge regarding appropriate exercise prescription for older adults in light of the potential risks and benefits of various doses and types of exercise. In addition, clinicians and patients may have concerns about potential health considerations relevant to older adults such as comprehensive pre-exercise screening and exercise-drug interactions. In light of this, the following review presents (1) guidelines for exercise prescription in older adults and modification of these guidelines for patients with the most common age-associated comorbidities; (2) recommendations for pre-exercise screening prior to initiating an exercise program in older adults; (3) considerations for older adults on one or more medications; and (4) common barriers to adopting and maintaining exercise in an older population. Our goal is to provide a framework that clinicians can follow when prescribing exercise in older adults while considering the unique characteristics and concerns present in this population.


elderlyexercise traininghealth promotionphysical activityexercise prescription
  • Year: 2016
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 2
  • Page/Article: 98-104
  • DOI: 10.14797/mdcj-12-2-98
  • Published on 1 Apr 2016
  • Peer Reviewed