In this article we present the results of the 2015 review and ranking of U.S. doctoral programs in kinesiology conducted by the National Academy of Kinesiology (NAK) and based on data for the calendar years 2010 through 2014. This is the third consecutive five-year review and represents the only continuous effort to create rankings for the field of kinesiology today. As in previous reviews, this evaluation was built, using objective measures, on a norm-referenced survey of kinesiology doctoral programs in the United States. Of the 77 programs invited to participate, 52 provided complete sets of the required data. The raw data comprised 9 faculty indices contributing 66% of the total score, and 7 doctoral student indices, which made up the remaining 34%. Raw data for individual indices were converted to normative values by first transforming them into z-scores and then converting the z-scores into T-scores, to which weightings were applied. From the total T-scores, two sets of rankings were determined: unadjusted and adjusted to number of faculty members in each program. Rankings based on total T-scores are presented as well as T-scores for individual indices for each program. We also share raw data means and standard deviations for individual variables, organized into subgroups based on total T-scores. Finally, we compare the outcomes of this review with the previous review conducted by the NAK.
Beverly D. Ulrich and Deborah L. Feltz
Meridith Griffin, Brett Smith, P. David Howe, and Cassandra Phoenix
In this paper we present a scoping review of literature on aging, visual impairment, and physical activity. Our objectives are to: (a) explore the available literature on aging, physical activity, and sight loss; (b) describe how participation in physical activity by older adults with visual impairment is understood by researchers; and, (c) identify benefits, barriers, and facilitators of physical activity participation as reported by older adults with age-related sight loss. Over 2,000 sources were reviewed, with 30 studies meeting eligibility criteria. Findings were organized into four thematic categories, namely: (a) participation rates; (b) health inequalities; (c) barriers to physical activity participation; and, (d) benefits of physical activity participation. Through this scoping review process, extant knowledge was synthesized and gaps in the literature were critically assessed. To address these gaps, several avenues for future research are outlined and described, alongside a consideration of the implications of the scoping review findings for both policy and practice.
Joan N. Vickers
Barbara E. Ainsworth
There is strong evidence that older adults greatly benefit from regular physical activity. Yet, older age is consistently associated with lower levels of aerobic physical activity and strength training and higher levels of sedentary behavior, underscoring the need to better understand physical activity behavior in this population. Reviews of interventions to increase physical activity have overall yielded promising results. Interventions based on behavior theory appear to be more effective than non-theory-based interventions, yet strategies from these theories are underutilized in both research and practice. This paper discusses the importance of behavioral interventions, cites findings from the Active for Life initiative to illustrate several key concepts, and provides recommendations to address significant gaps in the literature, including the use of theory, mediation analyses, physical activity maintenance, diversity of participants, and dissemination and translational research.
Karl M. Newell and Steven Morrison
This paper presents a framework for an evolving dynamical landscape of movement forms and their stability over the lifespan. It is proposed that the complexity and dimensionality of movement forms can expand and contract on a number of growth/decay time scales of change including those of adaptation, development, and learning. The expansion and contraction is reflected in: (1) the range of potential movement forms of the individual in developmental time; and (2) the dimensionality and complexity of any single movement form at a moment of observation given the confluence of individual, environmental, and task constraints. It is postulated that practice, exercise, and fatigue also coalesce to change the time scales of complexity and dimension of movement forms.
Jennifer J. Heisz and Ana Kovacevic
Age-related changes in the brain can compromise cognitive function. However, in some cases, the brain is able to functionally reorganize to compensate for some of this loss. The present paper reviews the benefits of exercise on executive functions in older adults and discusses a potential mechanism through which exercise may change the way the brain processes information for better cognitive outcomes. Specifically, older adults who are more physically active demonstrate a shift toward local neural processing that is associated with better executive functions. We discuss the use of neural complexity as a sensitive measure of the neural network plasticity that is enhanced through exercise. We conclude by highlighting the future work needed to improve exercise prescriptions that help older adults maintain their cognitive and physical functions for longer into their lifespan.
Thomas A. Stoffregen
It is widely assumed that healthy aging includes a decline in the stability of standing body sway. Certainly, the spatial magnitude of postural sway increases with age. However, the interpretation of this effect as a decline in the ability to stabilize posture rests, in part, on assumptions about the nature and definition of stability in stance. In this article, I review data on the control of standing posture in healthy older adults. I focus on a growing list of studies that demonstrate the retention, among healthy older adults, of the ability functionally to modulate postural sway in support of “suprapostural” activities. I address laboratory research, but also field studies carried out in a setting that dramatically challenges the control of stance: life on ships at sea. I argue that it may be possible, and certainly will be useful, to address directly the functional control of stance in older adults.
Debra J. Rose
Despite the significant increase in years that an individual can now expect to live in the 21st century, there is growing evidence that the price for greater longevity may be worsening health due to the higher prevalence of nonfatal but disabling conditions. This sobering news suggests the need for expanded scientific inquiry directed at understanding the multilevel factors that promote or prevent physical activity (PA) participation and the adoption of healthy lifestyle behaviors and the types of intervention strategies that will be most effective in positively changing behavior at different life stages. Fruitful areas of future scientific inquiry include exploring other types and intensities of PA aimed at increasing PA participation while reducing sedentary behavior, better understanding the role of the physical and social environment in promoting PA participation, and designing and evaluating multilevel PA interventions that are better tailored to the activity preferences, goals, and expectations of a diverse older adult population, and flexibly delivered in real-world settings. Finally, conducting research aimed at better differentiating normal age-associated changes from those that are disease-related will be fundamental to reversing the negative stereotypes that currently shape the public’s view of the aging process.
Nicholas Stergiou, Jenny A. Kent, and Denise McGrath
An optimal level of variability enables us to interact adaptively and safely to a continuously changing environment, where often our movements must be adjusted in a matter of milliseconds. A large body of research exists that demonstrates natural variability in healthy gait (along with variability in other, healthy biological signals such as heart rate) and a loss of this variability in aging and injury, as well as in a variety of neurodegenerative and physiological disorders. We submit that this field of research is now in pressing need of an innovative “next step” that goes beyond the many descriptive studies that characterize levels of variability in various patient populations. We need to devise novel therapies that will harness the existing knowledge on biological variability and create new possibilities for those in the grip of disease. We also propose that the nature of the specific physiological limitation present in the neuromuscular apparatus may be less important in the physiological complexity framework than the control mechanisms adopted by the older individual in the coordination of the available degrees of freedom. The theoretical underpinnings of this framework suggest that interventions designed to restore healthy system dynamics may optimize functional improvements in older adults. We submit that interventions based on the restoration of optimal variability and movement complexity could potentially be applied across a range of diseases or dysfunctions as it addresses the adaptability and coordination of available degrees of freedom, regardless of the internal constraints of the individual.