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Strength exercise and older adults: Messages they receive from physicians

Teresa M Merrick, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Physicians’ value as a health authority situates them to provide advice on strength exercise (SE) to older adults (OA)—those over age 40—as part of a healthy physical activity (PA) program. Guidelines call for performing SE at least two days per week. However, overall prevalence of physician counseling for PA is low, despite evidence that OA want physicians to provide such advice. ^ This project surveyed a convenience sample of 171 OA from health-club sites and non-health-club sites. The questionnaire investigated the stages of adoption for SE; prevalence of SE discussions during health care visits in the last 12 months; knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes that OA perceive from their primary care providers on performing SE; OA attitude toward provider advice to perform SE; OA view of providers as role models for SE; and whether providers had discussed SE with OA since they turned age 40. ^ Over 60% performed SE at least twice a week; however non-club respondents performed SE at about the same rate (27%) as the general adult population (21%). Prevalence of SE discussions was only 29.9%. There were no differences by gender, age, work status, health status, number of chronic conditions, or stage of adoption. Over 54% reported their PCPs had not discussed SE since they turned age 40. ^ Over 84% agreed they would follow primary care provider advice to perform SE, but did not seem to view the provider as a role model for SE. Perceptions of providers’ beliefs and attitudes related to performing SE were rated more positively than providers’ knowledge. Scores for beliefs and attitudes were positively correlated to 12-month prevalence of SE discussions, to stage of adoption, and to attitude toward provider advice to perform SE. Knowledge had the least influence, but most OA said their primary care provider could refer them to a resource for help with SE. ^ Physicians should promote SE by knowing existing guidelines, referring OA to resources to help, and following up on participation at every patient visit.^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology|Sociology, Public and Social Welfare|Psychology, Cognitive|Education, Health

Recommended Citation

Merrick, Teresa M, "Strength exercise and older adults: Messages they receive from physicians" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3359830.