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The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of resistance training alone or in combination with balance and gait training on balance and gait measures in seniors. Subjects, ranging in age from 65 to 83 years, were randomly assigned to a strength and balance/gait group (SB, n = 21 ) or a control group (S, n = 18) receiving strength and relaxation training. Both groups significantly increased their strength and gait speed over the 12-week training period, but step length remained unchanged. The results suggest that elders can make significant gains in muscular strength and walking speed through resistance training, and that adding balance and gait training to resistance training can significantly improve some balance and gait measures beyond improvements achieved from strength training alone. If replicated, these results set the stage for investigations of injury control benefits possible from balance training.
Deborah F. Verfaillie is with the Department of Biology, Grossmont College, El Cajon, CA 92020-1799. Jeanne F. Nichols and Melbourne F. Hovell are with the Department of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences and the Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego. CA 92182-0405. Ellen Turkel is with the Department of Physical Education, San Diego City College, San Diego, CA 92101-4787.