Can progressive resistance strength training reduce physical disability in older adults? A meta-analysis study

Disabil Rehabil. 2011;33(2):87-97. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2010.487145. Epub 2010 May 17.


Purpose: The decline of muscle strength is associated with physical disability in late adulthood. Progressive resistance strength training has been demonstrated to be an effective intervention to increase muscle strength, however, its effect on reducing physical disability in older adults is unclear. The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of progressive resistance strength training on physical disability via meta-analysis.

Method: Two reviewers independently searched for qualified trials, assessed trial quality and extracted data. Trial inclusion criteria are: (1) Randomised controlled trials, (2) Mean age of participant sample is ≥ 60 years, (3) Progressive resistance strength training as the primary intervention and (4) the trial included outcome measures of physical disability (i.e. physical function domain of the Short-Form 36).

Results: Thirty-three trials were analysed. Although the effect size is small, the intervention groups showed reduced physical disability when compared to the control groups (SMD = 0.14, 95% CI = 0.05 to 0.22).

Conclusions: Progressive resistance strength training appears to be an effective intervention to reduce physical disability in older adults. To maximise the effect, we suggest therapists use responsive outcome measures and multi-component intervention approach.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Resistance Training*