Feasibility and Impact of High-Intensity Walking Training in Frail Older Adults

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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To investigate the impact of high-intensity walking training (HIWT) on prefrail and frail older adults, five assisted living residents underwent a supervised 12-session intervention. The intervention consisted of 30 min of HIWT at 70–80% of heart rate reserve or ratings of 15 to 17 (hard to very hard) on the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion scale. Training included walking at fast speeds, multi-directions, stairs, and outdoor surfaces with and without an assistive device. Training significantly reduced frailty using the SHARE-FI (p = .008), increased fast gait speed (p = .01), improved 6-min walk test distance (p = .03), and enhanced Berg Balance Scale scores (p = .03). There were no adverse events and all participants reached target training intensity in all 12 sessions. Participants viewed the walking intervention as highly satisfactory (9.6/10 on a Likert scale) and 100% recommended that the assisted living facility should offer HIWT as part of routine programming.

Danilovich is with the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Conroy is with the Department of Kinesiology and Human Development & Family Studies, College of Health and Human Development, Penn State University, State College, PA. Hornby is with Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL; and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN.

Address author correspondence to Margaret Danilovich at Margaret-wente@northwestern.edu.
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