A Pilot Study to Assess the Feasibility of Group Exercise and Animal-Assisted Therapy in Older Adults

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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This pilot study assessed the feasibility of incorporating animal-assisted therapy teams (ATT) into a 6-week group exercise program for older adults (77 ± 6 years). Fifteen participants were randomly assigned to an exercise with ATT (E+ATT; n = 8) or exercise only (E; n = 7) group. Groups exercised 3x/week for 45 min. Feasibility was assessed by three objectives: (1) ATT will not need extensive preparation beyond their original therapy training; (2) the study will require minimal cost; and (3) ATT must not impair the effectiveness of the exercise program. By the study conclusion, all objectives were met. Time and cost were minimal for ATT, and adherence was 93% and 90% for E+ATT and E, respectively. There were significant improvements in both groups (p ≤ .05) for arm curls, get-up and go, and 6-min walk. The results of this pilot study suggest that it is feasible to incorporate ATT into group exercise programming for older adults.

Grubbs, Artese, and Panton are with the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, College of Human Sciences, and the Institute of Successful Longevity, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. Schmitt is with the College of Medicine, Department of Medical Humanities & Social Sciences, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. Cormier is with the College of Nursing, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.

Address author correspondence to Brandon Grubbs at Bfg04@my.fsu.edu.