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Effects of a Brief Stair-Climbing Intervention on Cognitive Functioning and Mood States in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Neda Nasrollahi, Jordan Quensell, and Liana Machado

Despite an abundance of evidence that exercise benefits cognition and mood, physical activity levels among older adults remain low, with time and inaccessibility posing major barriers. Interval stair climbing is an accessible time-efficient form of physical activity demonstrated to benefit cognition and mood in young adults, but effectiveness in older adults remains unknown. To address this, 28 older adults (M age = 69.78 years, 16 females) undertook cognitive and mood assessments twice, 1 week apart, once preceded by interval stair climbing. A fairly large, albeit only marginally significant, effect size ( η p 2 = .12 ) indicated improved cognition following the moderate- to high-intensity intervention; however, rather than improving mood, older adults reported feeling more tired (g = 0.51). These outcomes provide initial indications that this mode of exercise that can easily translate to naturalistic settings offers promise as an intervention strategy, but more research is needed to optimize the protocol to suit aged populations (ACTRN1261900169014).

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The Effect of Therapeutic Exercise Interventions on Physical and Psychosocial Outcomes in Adults Aged 80 Years and Older: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Philippa J.A. Nicolson, Vicky Duong, Esther Williamson, Sally Hopewell, and Sarah E. Lamb

This systematic review aimed to evaluate the effects of therapeutic exercise on physical and psychosocial outcomes in community-dwelling adults aged 80 years or older. Databases were searched from inception to July 8, 2020. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were screened by two reviewers who extracted data and assessed study quality. Sixteen RCTs (1,660 participants) were included. Compared to nonexercise controls there was no evidence of an effect of exercise on performance based (standardized mean differences: 0.58, 95% confidence interval: [−0.19, 1.36]; I 2: 89%; six RCTs; 290 participants; very low-quality evidence) or self-reported physical function (standardized mean differences: 1.35, 95% confidence interval: [−0.78, 3.48]; I 2: 96%; three RCTs; 280 participants; very low-quality evidence) at short-medium term follow-up. Four RCTs reporting psychosocial outcomes could not be combined in meta-analysis and reported varying results. Exercise appeared to reduce the risk of mortality during follow-up (risk ratio: 0.47, 95% confidence interval: [0.32, 0.70]; I 2: 0.0%; six RCTs; 1,222 participants; low-quality evidence).

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Effects of Exercise in the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease: An Umbrella Review of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

Alexandro Andrade, Thais Cristina Siqueira, Anderson D’Oliveira, and Fábio Hech Dominski

The authors aimed to provide an overview of the evidence on the effects of exercise in people with Alzheimer’s disease through a comprehensive review of the existing systematic reviews and meta-analyses. A literature search was performed in CINAHL, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Scopus, and Web of Science databases according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. The AMSTAR-2-Tool was used for the quality assessment. Twenty-three reviews fulfilled the criteria. Most of the reviews investigated the effects of aerobic exercise on Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. The largest effects of exercise were seen in terms of improved cognition by multiple exercises. The majority of the reviews were rated as being of moderate quality and none were classified as having high quality. Exercise is an effective way to treat Alzheimer’s disease symptoms and has a low incidence of related adverse events. As most reviews were evaluated as low-moderate quality, caution is needed in the interpretation of the results.

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Comparing the Effects of Single-Task versus Dual-Task Balance Training on Gait Smoothness and Functional Balance in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Samira Javadpour, Ehsan Sinaei, Reza Salehi, Shahla Zahednejad, and Alireza Motealleh

To compare the effects of single- versus dual-task balance training on the gait smoothness and balance of community-dwelling older adults, 69 volunteers were randomized to single-, dual-task training, and control (no intervention) groups. Exercises were received in 18 sessions through 6 weeks. The gait smoothness was measured by the harmonic ratio of trunk accelerations using a triaxial accelerometer. Balance performance was assessed through the Fullerton Advanced Balance scale, Timed Up and Go test, Activities-specific Balance Confidence, and gait speed. After the trial, all variables improved significantly in the training groups. Moreover, differences in the mean change of all variables, except the Timed Up and Go test, were statistically significant between the interventional groups and the control group, but no significant difference was reported between the two training groups. This study suggests that balance training can improve gait smoothness as well as balance status in healthy older adults.

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Feasibility and Effectiveness of a Biography-Based Physical Activity Intervention in Institutionalized People With Dementia: Quantitative and Qualitative Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial

Doris Gebhard and Filip Mess

The objective of this multicenter randomized controlled trial was to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of a physical activity intervention for institutionalized people with dementia, individualized by capacity and biography. The intervention group (n = 34; age: mean = 86.09 years; 79.40% female; mean Mini-Mental State Examination value = 18.59) participated in a multicomponent training program, which included daily activities, dancing, gardening, and sports/games, twice weekly for 3 months. The control group (n = 29; age: mean = 86.34 years; 75.90% female; mean Mini-Mental State Examination value = 19.90) received standard care. Feasibility was evaluated by means of focus groups and feedback questionnaires. Functional performance (Short Physical Performance Battery and Timed Up and Go Test), activities of daily living, and gait were outcomes for effectiveness. A high adherence rate (80.46%) and uniformly positive feedback indicate that the piloted training program is feasible. The results show preliminary effectiveness on functional performance (Short Physical Performance Battery mean t0 = 3.15; mean t1 = 4.50; p = .006) and gait (e.g., velocity mean t 0 = 46.97; mean t 1 = 58.04; p = .007).

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The Relationship Between Concerns About Falling and Daily Life Activity in Older Men and Women

Zoe Yu Shiu, Kim Delbaere, and Kimberley S. van Schooten

Concerns about falling (CAF) affect daily life activities in older people; however, it is unclear whether gender moderates this relationship. The authors investigated the cross-sectional relationship between CAF and objectively measured physical activity (PA) and gait quality in 503 community-dwelling older men and women. About 448 people (age = 76.2 [SD 7.9] years, 296 females) contributed sufficient data on movement intensity, activity duration (bouts of walking, sitting, and standing), number of transitions between activities (sit-to-stand and sit-to-walk), number of steps and gait quality, quantified as walking speed, and sample entropy. Associations with the Iconographical Falls Efficacy Scale were tested. The authors found no significant moderation by gender. However, women participated in less PA than men and showed a more irregular walking pattern. Higher levels of CAF led to lower PA and poorer gait quality. Our findings suggest that prevention of CAF-related PA avoidance may be particularly important for women, who are less active and at higher risk of falls.

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Risk Factors for Mobility Decline in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Systematic Literature Review

Philippa J.A. Nicolson, Maria T. Sanchez-Santos, Julie Bruce, Shona Kirtley, Lesley Ward, Esther Williamson, and Sarah E. Lamb

Mobility is essential to maintaining independence for older adults. This systematic review aimed to summarize evidence about self-reported risk factors for self-reported mobility decline; and to provide an overview of published prognostic models for self-reported mobility decline among community-dwelling older adults. Databases were searched from inception to June 2, 2020. Studies were screened by two independent reviewers who extracted data and assessed study quality. Sixty-one studies (45,187 participants) were included, providing information on 107 risk factors. High-quality evidence and moderate/large effect sizes for the association with mobility decline were found for older age beyond 75 years, the presence of widespread pain, and mobility modifications. Moderate–high quality evidence and small effect sizes were found for a further 21 factors. Three model development studies demonstrated acceptable model performance, limited by high risk of bias. These findings should be considered in intervention development, and in developing a prediction instrument for practical application.

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U.S. Older Adults’ Participation in Balance Activities

Eric T. Hyde, John D. Omura, Tiffany J. Chen, David R. Brown, Janet E. Fulton, and Susan A. Carlson

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, second edition recommends that older adults do multicomponent physical activity, which includes balance training in addition to aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. The authors estimated the prevalence of U.S. older adults (age ≥65 years) who do balance activities and meet the aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity guidelines. The authors analyzed data on 1,012 respondents to the 2019 FallStyles survey, a nationwide web-based panel survey. Approximately four in 10 respondents (40.7%) reported doing balance activities on ≥1 day/week, 34.0% on ≥2 days/week, and 25.3% on ≥3 days/week. Prevalence differed by sex, education level, income level, census region, body mass index category, and meeting the aerobic and/or muscle-strengthening guidelines. The combined prevalence of participation in balance activities and meeting aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines ranged from 12.0% for ≥3 days/week to 15.8% for ≥1 day/week. Opportunities exist to introduce and increase participation in balance and multicomponent activities by older adults.

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Feasibility and Acceptability of Home-Based Exercise Snacking and Tai Chi Snacking Delivered Remotely to Self-Isolating Older Adults During COVID-19

Ian Ju Liang, Oliver J. Perkin, Polly M. McGuigan, Dylan Thompson, and Max J. Western

The purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility and acceptability of remotely delivered, home-based exercise programs on physical function and well-being in self-isolating older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a four-arm randomized controlled trial, 63 participants (aged 65 years and older) were allocated to one of three home-based daily (2 × 10-min) exercise interventions (exercise snacking, tai chi snacking, and combination) or control (UK National Health Service Web pages). Functional assessments were conducted via video call at baseline and 4-week follow-up. A web-based survey assessed the acceptability of each exercise program and secondary psychological/well-being outcomes. Ecological momentary assessment data, collected in Weeks 1 and 4, explored feeling states as antecedents and consequences of exercise. All intervention groups saw increased physical function at follow-up and displayed good adherence with exercise snacking considered the most acceptable program. Multilevel models revealed reciprocal associations between feelings of energy and exercise engagement. Further studies are needed with larger, more diverse demographic samples.

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Staying Strong Together: Older People Engaging in Resistance Training With a Peer

Paige Watkins, Anne-Marie Hill, Ian K. Thaver, and Elissa Burton

The aim of this qualitative exploratory study was to investigate older adults’ perceptions of having a peer to encourage their participation in resistance training. The participants were recruited from a retirement village to undergo a 6-week resistance training program. Some participants attended a center; others participated in their home. Data were collected via semistructured interviews and analyzed thematically using a six-phase framework to obtain the participants’ perspectives about the peer support they received. The participants (n = 21) had divergent views about peer support, with some finding it enabling, while others did not find it helpful. Overall, the participants suggested that peer support could be beneficial if offered as a choice. Further research is needed to determine whether peer support assists in sustaining resistance training engagement among older adults when the aspect of choice is included.