Psychological Effects of Whole-Body Vibration Training in Frail Older Adults: An Open, Randomized Control Trial

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The aim of this study was to identify the psychological effects of whole-body vibration (WBV) exercise in frail older adults. About 117 male and female volunteers (82.5 ± 7.9 years) from residential care facilities were randomized and assigned to control, simulated exercise (SIM), or WBV exercise (WBV) groups. All received regular care, while exercise groups also underwent 16 weeks of training (3 × 20 min/week). WBV exercise began with 5 × 1 min bouts (6 Hz/2 mm, 1:1 min exercise:rest), self-progressing to 10 × 1 min (up to 26 Hz/4 mm), and maintaining knee flexion. SIM training mimicked exercise stance and duration. Pre- and post-measures of falls–confidence, quality of life, and functional independence were completed using validated questionnaires. Functional independence and falls–confidence scores increased by 5.8% and 17.4% respectively with WBV exercise, compared with declines in SIM (p = .074/p = .035, respectively) and control (p = .000/p = .000, respectively) participants. Beneficial effects remained for at least 6-month post-intervention. Further WBV benefits were observed in activity, mobility, and self-care elements of quality of life. Sixteen weeks of low-level WBV exercise is sufficient to enhance frail older adults’ falls-related confidence, quality of life, and functional independence.

Wadsworth is with the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, Queensland, Australia; School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand; and Sunshine Coast Health Institute, Birtinya, Queensland, Australia. Turnbull is with the Capital and Coast District Health Board, Wellington, New Zealand. Lark is with Sport and Exercise Science New Zealand (SESNZ), Christchurch, New Zealand.

Wadsworth (dwadswor@usc.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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