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‘What should I prescribe?’: time to improve reporting of resistance training programmes to ensure accurate translation and implementation
  1. Sinéad Holden1,2,
  2. Christian J Barton3,4
  1. 1 Research Unit for General Practice in Aalborg, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
  2. 2 SMI, Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
  3. 3 La Trobe Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre, School of Allied Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4 Department of Surgery, St Vincent’s Hospital, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sinéad Holden, Research Unit for General Practice in Aalborg, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aalborg University, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark; siho{at}

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Exercise is effective, there’s no doubt

There is no doubt that exercise is efficacious for treating and preventing multiple chronic conditions. Evidence supports exercise prescription for treating at least 26 different chronic conditions,1 cumulatively affecting 117 million people. The question is, how to prescribe exercise to ensure patients benefit optimally? How much (or little) is enough?

Not all exercise is created equal

Different exercises types (such as aerobic activities, resistance training and balance/proprioceptive exercises) serve different purposes and can all be effective. However, not all activities are equally effective for different parameters of health, function or performance. The desired outcomes and prescription parameters will vary depending on the exercise modality, as will the physiological mechanisms and responses underpinning the exercise prescription. This underscores the need to consider specific prescription and doses relative to exercise modalities in research interventions.

So, what works?

As an example, many clinical practice guidelines for musculoskeletal conditions recommend resistance training (e.g., National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines for osteoarthritis),2 but lack specific details on how/what to prescribe. The literature is difficult to synthesise, as …

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  • Contributors SH and CJB discussed the idea. SH drafted the editorial, and CJB provided feedback. Both authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.