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Adaptation to Athletic Retirement and Perceptions About Aging: A Qualitative Study of Retired Olympic Athletes

Michelle Pannor Silver

Self-perceptions about aging have implications for health and well-being; however, less is known about how these perceptions influence adaptation to major life transitions. The goal of this study was to examine how high-performance athletes’ perceptions about aging influenced their adaptation to athletic retirement. In-depth interviews conducted with 24 retired Olympic athletes using thematic analysis yielded three key themes: (a) perceptions about aging influenced participants’ postretirement exercise habits, (b) perceptions about aging motivated participants to engage in civic activities, and (c) participants who lacked formative perceptions about aging associated their athletic retirement with their own lost sense of purpose. These findings provide evidence that perceptions about aging influence athletes’ adaptation to retirement by directing their subsequent engagement in postretirement activities. Furthermore, this research highlights theoretical implications for the literature regarding embodied processes, retirement transitions, role models, and adaptation to new physical states.

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Erratum: Reasons Why Older Adults Engage in Physical Exercise. Comparative Study Eastern Europe Versus Southern Europe

Human Kinetics, Inc.

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Using Virtual Reality–Based Rehabilitation in Sarcopenic Older Adults in Rural Health Care Facilities—A Quasi-Experimental Study

Guan-Bo Chen, Che-Wei Lin, Hung-Ya Huang, Yi-Jhen Wu, Hung-Tzu Su, Shu-Fen Sun, and Sheng-Hui Tuan

Because of a shortage of health care providers, providing rehabilitation in health care facilities is difficult. Virtual reality–based rehabilitation is effective in older populations. There are only a few studies among patients with sarcopenia. This is a quasi-experimental, single-group, pretest–posttest design evaluating the clinical effectiveness of virtual reality–based progressive resistance training among residents aged over 60 years with sarcopenia in rural care facilities. The authors used Oculus Rift with headsets to provide the virtual reality–based progressive resistance training. The authors administered the program twice per week, 30 min per session, for 12 weeks. The primary outcomes were dominant handgrip strength, walking speed, and appendicular skeletal muscle mass index. Data from 30 participants were analyzed. Significant improvements in handgrip strength and walking speed were observed. Although an increasing trend in appendicular skeletal muscle mass index was observed, it did not reach statistical significance. The authors concluded that the virtual reality–based progressive resistance training is partially effective in older sarcopenic adults in health care facilities.

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The Acute Effects of Different Exercise Intensities on Associative Novel Word Learning in Healthy Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Marie-Pier McSween, Katie L. McMahon, Kylie Maguire, Jeff S. Coombes, Amy D. Rodriguez, Kirk I. Erickson, and David A. Copland

Recent studies show positive effects of acute exercise on language learning in young adults with lower baseline learning abilities; however, this is yet to be investigated in older adults. This study investigated the acute effects of different exercise intensities on new word learning in healthy older adults with lower and higher baseline learning abilities. Sixty older adults (mean age = 66.4 (4.6); 43 females) performed either a single bout of stretching exercise, moderate-intensity continuous exercise, or high-intensity interval exercise followed by a word learning task. In lower baseline learners, between-group differences were observed on immediate new word recall success, with the moderate-intensity continuous exercise group performing better than the stretching group. These findings suggest immediate benefits of moderate-intensity continuous exercise that are limited to word learning performance of older adults with lower baseline learning abilities. Further investigation into underlying mechanisms could lead to a better understanding of individual differences in responding to acute exercise.

Open access

Low or Declining Gait Speed is Associated With Risk of Developing Dementia Over 5 Years Among People Aged 85 Years and Over

Jerry Öhlin, Yngve Gustafson, Håkan Littbrand, Birgitta Olofsson, and Annika Toots

Improving dementia screening procedures beyond simple assessment of current cognitive performance is timely given the ongoing phenomenon of population aging. A slow or declining gait speed (GS) is a potential early indicator of cognitive decline scarcely investigated in very old people. Here, we investigated the 5-year associations of baseline GS, change in GS, and cognitive function with subsequent dementia development in people aged 85 years and older (n = 296) without dementia at baseline. Declining and a slow baseline GS were associated with higher odds of dementia development after adjusting for confounders (e.g., age, sex, and dependency in activities of daily living) and missing GS values at follow-up. The GS decline was associated with cognitive decline in participants who developed dementia. The results support the potential of GS tests to predict future cognitive decline among community- and nursing home-dwelling very old people.

Open access

Association of Perceived Environment and Physical Activity in Older Adults After the Great East Japan Earthquake

Nobuaki Moriyama, Hajime Iwasa, and Seiji Yasumura

The aim of this study was to examine the association between perceived environment and physical activity among older adults in Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the impact of evacuation. Questionnaires were distributed to individuals aged 65 years and older from October to November 2018. Perceived environment was assessed using a five-item questionnaire on home fitness equipment, access to facilities, neighborhood safety, enjoyable scenery, and frequency of observing others exercising. Physical activity, assessed via the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Elderly Japanese, was segregated into levels based on the median score. Data from 249 participants (74.2 ± 6.9 years) were analyzed. A logistic regression analysis found that the unenjoyable Scenery × Residing in restoration public housing interaction (odds ratio = 3.87, 95% confidence interval = [1.20, 12.46]) was significant. The association between enjoyable scenery and physical activity varied according to whether the participants had experienced evacuation or not.

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Adherence to the Class-Based Component of a Tai Chi Exercise Intervention for People Living With Dementia and Their Informal Carers

Yolanda Barrado-Martín, Michelle Heward, Remco Polman, and Samuel R. Nyman

The objective of this study was to understand the experiences of people living with dementia and their informal carers’ taking part together (in dyads) in Tai Chi classes and the aspects influencing their adherence. Dyads’ experiences of taking part in Tai Chi classes for 20 weeks within the TACIT Trial were explored through class observations (n = 22 dyads), home-interviews (n = 15 dyads), and feedback. Data were inductively coded following thematic analysis. Tai Chi classes designed for people with dementia and their informal carers were enjoyable and its movements, easy to learn. Facilitators of participants' adherence were the socializing component and their enjoyment of the classes, whereas unexpected health problems were the main barrier. Finding the optimal level of challenge in the class setting might be crucial for people with dementia to feel satisfied with their progression over sessions and enable their continued participation.

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The Efficacy of a Multicomponent Functional Fitness Program Based on Exergaming on Cognitive Functioning of Healthy Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Élvio R. Gouveia, Asim Smailagic, Andreas Ihle, Adilson Marques, Bruna R. Gouveia, Mónica Cameirão, Honorato Sousa, Matthias Kliegel, and Daniel Siewiorek

Background and Objectives: Regular physical exercise can attenuate age-related cognitive decline. This study aimed to investigate the effect of a physical exercise multicomponent training based on exergames on cognitive functioning (CF) in older adults. Research Design and Methods: This randomized controlled trial included older adults aged 61–78. Participants were randomly allocated to an intervention group (IG; n = 15) or active control group (CG; n = 16). The IG was exposed to a combined training with traditional exercise and exergaming, twice a week over a period of 12 weeks. The CG performed only traditional sessions. CF was assessed by the Cognitive Telephone Screening Instrument. The time points for assessment were at zero (pretest), 12 (posttest), and 17 weeks (follow-up). Results: Active CG and IG increased from pretest to posttest in short-term memory (STM), long-term memory (LTM), and Cognitive Telephone Screening Instrument total score 1.98 > Z < 3.00, ps < .005, with moderately large positive effects (.36 > r < .54). A significant increase was seen from posttest to follow-up in STM, Z = 2.74, p = .006, and LTM, Z = 2.31, p < .021, only in IG. Across the two time periods posttest to follow-up, there were significant interaction effects between program type and time for STM (p = .022, η p 2 = .17 ) and LTM (p = .004, η p 2 = .25 ), demonstrating a more beneficial effect of the exergames intervention compared to the CG. Discussion and Implications: The integration of exergaming in a multicomponent functional fitness exercise might have the potential to maintain and improve CF (in particular, STM and LTM) in older adults.

Open access

A Qualitative Exploration of Perceptions of a Digital Intervention to Promote Physical Activity in Older Adults

Sebastien Pollet, James Denison-Day, Katherine Bradbury, Rosie Essery, Elisabeth Grey, Max Western, Fiona Mowbray, Kirsten A. Smith, Joanna Slodkowska-Barabasz, Nanette Mutrie, Paul Little, and Lucy Yardley

Purpose: This study explored participant views of a web-based physical activity intervention for older adults and examined how they resonate with the key principles that guided intervention development. Methods: Qualitative interviews were carried out with 52 older adults. A deductive qualitative analysis approach was taken, based around the intervention’s key principles. Results: Participants expressed mostly positive views of the intervention features, broadly confirming the appropriateness of the key principles, which were to: (a) encourage intrinsic motivation for physical activity, (b) minimize the risk of users receiving activity suggestions that are inappropriate or unsafe, (c) offer users choice regarding the activities they engage with and build confidence to undertake more activity, and (d) minimize the cognitive load and need to engage with the intervention website. The findings also identified ways in which content could be improved to further increase acceptability. Conclusion: This study illustrates how using the person-based approach has enabled the identification and implementation of features that older adults appreciate.

Open access

“Someone’s Got My Back”: Older People’s Experience of the Coaching for Healthy Ageing Program for Promoting Physical Activity and Preventing Falls

Abby Haynes, Catherine Sherrington, Geraldine Wallbank, David Lester, Allison Tong, Dafna Merom, Chris Rissel, and Anne Tiedemann

The Coaching for Healthy Ageing trial evaluated the impact on physical activity (PA) and falls based on a year-long intervention in which participants aged 60+ receive a home visit, regular health coaching by physiotherapists, and a free activity monitor. This interview study describes the participants’ experiences of the intervention and ideas for improvement. The authors sampled purposively for maximum variation in experiences. The data were analyzed thematically by two researchers. Most of the 32 participants reported that the intervention increased PA levels, embedded activities, and generated positivity about PA. They were motivated by quantified PA feedback, self-directed goals, and person-centered coaching. Social connectivity motivated some, but the intervention did not support this well. The intervention structure allowed participants to trial and embed activities. Autonomy and relatedness were emphasized and should be included in future program theory. The authors identified synergistic effects, likely “essential ingredients,” and potential areas for improving this and similar interventions.