Testing the perceived feasibility and acceptability of a conceptually challenging exercise training program in older adults: A qualitative study

Dr Clint Miller1, Dr Megan Teychenne1, Ms Jaimie-Lee Maple1

1Deakin University, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Melbourne, Australia

 

Aim: To determine the feasibility and acceptability of participating in various conceptually and physically challenging exercises in a group of older adults.

 

Methods: 14 older adults were exposed to a group of conceptually challenging exercises, which consisted of heavy load and light load high velocity resistance training, overspeed treadmill walking, dynamic balance tasks with external perturbations, resisted overground walking, and agility circuits.  They then completed one-on-one interviews, assessing their perceptions of the exercise program. Thematic analyses were performed.

 

Results: Overall, three key themes (Safety and confidence; Acceptability; Population participation) were identified. In regards to safety and confidence, staff knowledge and presence, program design features, and overt safety equipment were important factors that alleviated initial apprehension of participating in the exercise training. Although phsically demanding, they expressed satisfaction of being challenged. In regards to acceptability of the program, prior disposition, understanding the value, and the appeal of something new would influence engagement in the program. Concerning population participation, barriers included cost, time, and location. Facilitators included G.P referrals, and social support of friends or family participating in the program.

 

Significance of the findings to allied health: Older adults enjoyed being physically challenged but it is important that the exercise be directly supervised by exercise professionals using overt safety equipment. These findings provide an important contribution to research informing the development of falls prevention programs for older adults. The use of conceptually and physically challenging exercise training programs is an acceptable and potentially feasible approach for falls prevention in older adults.