Physical and Cognitive Effects of High-Intensity Interval or Circuit-Based Strength Training for Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Systematic Review

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Ashley Morgan School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Institute of Applied Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

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Kenneth S. Noguchi School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Institute of Applied Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

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Ada Tang School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Institute of Applied Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

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Jennifer Heisz Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

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Lehana Thabane Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Julie Richardson School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Institute of Applied Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

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Many older adults do not achieve recommended amounts of aerobic or strengthening exercise and high-intensity interval or circuit-based strengthening may offer a time-efficient solution. This review sought to determine the effects of high-intensity interval/circuit strengthening on physical and cognitive functioning for community-dwelling older adults, and its associated adherence, retention, and adverse events. Six databases were searched to June 2022 and 15 studies (11 for effectiveness) were included. The current certainty of evidence is low to very low; upper body-focused physical functioning measures demonstrated small to large benefits and lower body-focused, self-report, and cardiovascular measures had mixed results. There was insufficient evidence (one study) to determine cognitive effects. The mean adherence rates ranged from 73.5% to 95.8%, overall retention across all studies (n = 812) was 86%, and no serious adverse events were reported, suggesting that this type of exercise is feasible for community-dwelling older adults.

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