Progressive resistance strength training seems to be an effective intervention to reduce physical disability in older adults, according to the authors of a meta-analysis published in the January 2011 issue of Disability and Rehabilitation.

To maximize the effect, the authors suggest therapists use responsive outcome measures and multicomponent intervention approach.

Two reviewers independently searched for qualified trials, assessed trial quality, and extracted data. The trial inclusion criteria were: (1) randomized controlled trials, (2) mean age of participant sample as ≥ 60 years, (3) progressive resistance strength training as the primary intervention and, (4) outcome measures of physical disability (ie physical function domain of the Short-Form 36).

Some 33 trials were analyzed. Although the effect size was small, the intervention groups showed reduced physical disability when compared with the control groups (SMD = 0.14).

Researchers from the Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Indiana University at Indianapolis, conducted the study.