Development of an Exercise Program for the Frail Elderly

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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The article describes the design and preliminary evaluation of a 17-week, twice-weekly, comprehensive, progressive exercise program for frail elderly adults. The main objective was to maintain or improve mobility and performance of daily activities essential for independent functioning. Strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, and coordination were trained by walking, kneeling, and chair stands, performed in the context of motor behavior such as games and daily activities. The acceptability of the exercise program was evaluated in a population of community-dwelling, frail older adults (mean age 77.6 ± 5.4 years). Eighty-one percent completed the program. Program appreciation and attendance were high. Seventy-three percent reported wanting to continue participating if possible—although most only once a week. At follow-up (1–1.5 years afterward) 30% were still participating in an exercise program. The exercise program was enjoyed and accepted by a population of frail, previously sedentary elderly adults. Widespread implementation of this program could increase physical activity among frail older adults.

Chin A Paw, de Jong, and Schouten are with the Division of Human Nutrition and Epidemiology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Stevens and Bult are with the Dept. of Human Movement Sciences at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands.