Is Stretching Exercise An Adequate Control Group in Clinical Trials Aimed at Improving Physical Fitness and Function of Older Adults? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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This study aimed to determine if stretching exercise can be implemented as an adequate control therapy in exercise randomized controlled trials aimed at improving physical fitness and physical function in older adults. Five electronic databases were systematically searched for randomized controlled trials focused in the physical fitness and function of older adults using stretching exercise as control group. The methodological quality was assessed and a meta-analysis was carried out. Sixteen studies were included, 13 in the meta-analysis. The methodological quality ranged from fair to good. The meta-analysis only in the controls resulted in significant improvements in different functional parameters related to walking, balance, knee flexion strength, or global physical function. The interventions, compared with the controls, significantly improved balance and knee strength parameters. Stretching exercise as control therapy in older people can lead to beneficial effects and could influence the interpretation of the effect size in the intervention groups.

Sanchez-Lastra and Cancela are with the HealthyFit Research Group, Department of Special Didactics, Faculty of Education and Sports Sciences, University of Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain; and the Galicia Sur Health Research Institute (IIS Galicia Sur) Sergas-UVIGO, Spain. Molina and Fernández-Villa are with the Research Group in Gene-Environment and Health Interactions (GIIGAS)/Institute of Biomedicine (IBIOMED), University of León, León, Spain; and the Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Area of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of León, León, Spain. Martin is with the Research Group in Gene-Environment and Health Interactions (GIIGAS)/Institute of Biomedicine (IBIOMED), University of León, León, Spain; and Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Epidemiología y Salud Publica (CIBERESP), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain. Ayan is with the Well-Move Research Group, Department of Special Didactics, Faculty of Education and Sports Sciences, University of Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain; and the Galicia Sur Health Research Institute (IIS Galicia Sur) Sergas-UVIGO, Spain.

Sanchez-Lastra (misanchez@uvigo.es) is corresponding author.
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