Comparative Effects of Horse Exercise Versus Traditional Exercise Programs on Gait, Muscle Strength, and Body Balance in Healthy Older Adults

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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This study evaluates the separate effect and retention of 12-week traditional (TE) and horse (HE) exercise programs on physical function in healthy older participants (61 to 87 years old). Thirty-eight participants were randomly assigned to three groups: TE (n = 17), HE (n = 10), and control group (n = 11). TE and HE underwent a supervised exercise program (3 day/week). Maximal gait speed, muscle strength, and body balance were assessed at weeks 0, 12, and 16. Only TE and HE displayed significant improvements (P < .05) in knee extensor strength, and only HE had faster gait speed. Marginal balance improvements were found only in HE in the medial-lateral direction. However, TE showed larger improvements in handgrip than HE. The largest retention was in knee extensor strength but most of the exercise effects were lost in the follow-up. Besides TE, exercise with a horse may be an alternative option to older adults, provided that they want to interact with the animal.

Aranda-García is with the School of Health and Sports Science, Universitat de Girona, Girona, Spain and the Health and Applied Sciences Department, INEFC-Barcelona, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. Iricibar, Planas, and Prat-Subirana are with the Health and Sports Management Department, INEFC-Lleida, Universitat de Lleida, Lleida, Spain. Angulo-Barroso is with the Health and Applied Sciences Department, INEFC-Barcelona, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. Address author correspondence to Silvia Aranda-García at silvia.aranda.garcia@gmail.com