'A Lot of People Just Go for Walks, and Don't Do Anything Else': Older Adults in the UK Are Not Aware of the Strength Component Embedded in the Chief Medical Officers' Physical Activity Guidelines-A Qualitative Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Aug 13;19(16):10002. doi: 10.3390/ijerph191610002.


Strength recommendations have been embedded within the UK's Chief Medical Officers' physical activity guidelines since 2011. In 2019, they were given a more prominent position in the accompanying infographic. However, there is limited evidence that these recommendations have been successful in their population-wide dissemination. This study aimed to explore the engagement of community-dwelling older adults with the guidelines to date and to gain a nuanced understanding of the awareness, knowledge, and action that older adults take to fulfil strength recommendations. A total of fifteen older adults living in the UK participated in one online interview. A general inductive approach was used to generate themes from the data. There were four major themes that were found. 1. The strength component of the physical activity guidelines, 2. Barriers, 3. Motivators, and 4. Solutions. No participants were aware of the strength guidelines. When they were asked what activities they used to fulfil the 'build strength on at least two-days-per-week' criteria, walking, yoga, and Pilates were the most common responses. Ageism and strength training misconceptions were major barriers to participation in strengthening exercise. Older adults were much less aware of the benefits of building strength and strength training participation when compared to aerobic activities, so motivators to participation were generally not specific to strength training. Finally, there are several ways that practitioners can overcome the barriers to strength training participation. Solutions to improving the uptake and adherence to strength training participation are likely to be more successful when they include opportunities for social interaction, ability-appropriate challenge, and provide both short- and long-term benefits.

Keywords: active ageing; adherence; ageing; exercise; health behavior; health promotion; policy; recommendations; resistance training; uptake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Exercise* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Qualitative Research
  • Resistance Training*
  • United Kingdom