A novel exercise initiative for older adults

Mrs Myrla Sales1, Professor Remco Polman2, Professor Keith D. Hill3, Associate Professor Pazit Levinger1

1Institute of Sport, Exercise & Active Living (ISEAL), College of Sport and Exercise Science at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Department of Psychology at Bournemouth University, Poole, United Kingdom, 3School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science at Curtin University, Perth, Australia

Title:

A Novel Exercise Initiative for Older Adults to Improve Muscle Strength, Balance, Physical Function and Reduce Falls Risk

Aim:

This study aimed to investigate the feasibility, effectiveness and effects of an exercise intervention using a novel exercise park in improving senior’s balance, physical function and quality of life.

Method:

Randomised controlled trial with pre and post intervention design (baseline and at 18 weeks after participation commencement with a falls record over a 12-month period). Independent community dwelling adults aged between 60 and 90 years old were allocated to either an eighteen-week exercise park intervention group (EPIG) or a control group (CG). Primary outcome measure was the Balance Outcome Measure for Elder Rehabilitation (BOOMER). Secondary outcomes included measures of balance, strength and function as well as quality of life and fear of falling. Multivariate analysis of covariance was used to assess differences between groups over time.

Results:

Twenty-seven participants from EPIG completed the 18-week intervention (87%) with attendance of 79.6%. Significant improvement was observed for the EPIG group on single leg stance (p=0.02, 95%CI -8.35 to -.549), knee strength (p<0.01, -29.14 to -5.86), two-minute walk test (p=0.02, -19.13 to -.859) and timed sit to stand (p=0.03, -2.26 to -.143), although there was no difference in the BOOMER battery test (p=0.46, -.354 to .830).

Significance of the findings to allied health:

The 18-week exercise park program improved physical function in older people and had high adherence and participation rate. The exercise park program has been shown to be safe and therefore might enhance exercise uptake and sustain participation in exercise programs for older adults in the community.