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Mark Ward, Sarah Gibney, David O’Callaghan and Sinead Shannon

Despite the benefits, one in three older adults in Ireland has low activity levels. This study examined associations between the local social and built environment and physical activity of older adults to identify age-friendly factors that support physical activity among the aging population. Data were from the population-representative Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative Age-Friendly City and Counties Survey (N = 10,540). Physical activity was measured using a short-form of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Mixed-effects negative binomial regression models were adjusted for known health and sociodemographic correlates of physical activity. Results are reported as unstandardized beta coefficients (β) with standard errors. Loneliness, community participation, and difficulty in accessing green spaces partially explained the differences in the number of minutes that respondents were physically active. Combined with individual-level behavior change interventions, improvements to the local environment and promoting social connectedness may also be useful in promoting physical activity among older adults.

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Ka Man Leung and Pak-Kwong Chung

This study examined the associations between physical environment, social environment, and walking for transportation and recreation among older adults in Hong Kong. Cross-sectional data from 450 older adults (79 years or younger [71.9%], female [79.7%]) from 18 districts in Hong Kong were used. The participants’ perceptions of their physical and social environments were collected, and their walking behaviors were self-reported. The results revealed that positive physical environment facilitators and social environments were associated with increased total walking. Only positive physical environment facilitators were associated with increased walking for transportation, and physical and social environments had no notable effect on walking for recreation. These findings suggest that policy makers and walking intervention designers should develop strategies to enhance physical and social environments to promote total walking and walking for transportation.

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Julia C. Orri, Elizabeth M. Hughes, Deepa G. Mistry and Antone Scala

The authors compared the linear and nonlinear heart rate variability dynamics from rest through maximal exercise in postmenopausal women who trained at either moderate or high intensities. The outcome variables included the RR triangular index, TINN, SD1, SD2, SD1/SD2, DFA α1, DFA α2, and α1/α2. Maximal exercise reduced SD1, SD2, DFA α1, DFA α2, α1/α2, RRTri, and TINN in both groups and increased SD1/SD2 (p < .05). Two minutes of active recovery produced significant increases in SD1, SD2, DFA α1, and TINN, compared with exercise in both groups (p < .0001). There was also a significant main effect between groups for RRTri during exercise recovery, with the moderate group achieving higher levels (p < .04). The authors have shown that both moderate and vigorous exercise training can lead to a healthy response to maximal exercise and recovery, with the moderate group having a slightly improved recovery in the triangular index.

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Werner F. Helsen, Nikola Medic, Janet L. Starkes and Andrew M. Williams

Inequalities in relative age distribution have previously been demonstrated to influence participation and performance achievements in Masters athletes. The purpose of the present study was to examine the participation- and performance-related constituent year effect among Masters athletes (N = 2,474) from the European Masters Track and Field Championships across subdisciplines and age. The results indicated that a participation-related constituent year effect was observed. The likelihood of participation was significantly higher for athletes in their first year of any 5-year age category (χ2 = 149.8, p < .001) and decreased significantly when they were in the fourth or fifth year. The results also indicated a performance-related constituent year effect. Masters athletes in their first year won significantly more medals than expected based on observed participation rate (χ2 = 23.39, p < .001). We compare our results with the existing literature and discuss potential mechanisms for this constituent year effect.

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Yi-Ching Chen, I-Chen Lin, Yen-Ting Lin, Wei-Min Huang, Chien-Chun Huang and Ing-Shiou Hwang

This study contrasted the stochastic force component between young and older adults, who performed pursuit tracking/compensatory tracking by exerting in-phase/antiphase forces to match a sinusoidal target. Tracking force was decomposed into the force component containing the target frequency and the nontarget force fluctuations (stochastic component). Older adults with inferior task performance had higher complexity (entropy across time; p = .005) in total force. For older adults, task errors were negatively correlated with force fluctuation complexity (pursuit tracking: r = −.527 to −.551; compensatory tracking: r = −.626 to −.750). Notwithstanding an age-related increase in total force complexity (p = .004), older adults exhibited lower complexity of the stochastic force component than young adults did (low frequency: p = .017; high frequency: p = .035). Those older adults with a higher complexity of stochastic force had better task performance due to the underlying use of a richer gradation strategy to compensate for impaired oscillatory control.

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Darryn S. Willoughby, Kaitlan N. Beretich, Marcus Chen and LesLee K. Funderburk

Elevated circulating C-terminal agrin fragment (CAF) is a marker of neuromuscular junction degradation and sarcopenia. This study sought to determine if resistance training (RT) impacted the serum levels of CAF in perimenopausal (PERI-M) and postmenopausal (POST-M) women. A total of 35 women, either PERI-M or POST-M, participated in 10 weeks of RT. Body composition, muscle strength, and serum estradiol and CAF were determined before and after the RT. The data were analyzed with two-way analysis of variance (p ≤ .05). Upper body and lower body strength was significantly increased, by 81% and 73% and 86% and 79% for the PERI-M and POST-M participants, respectively; however, there were no significant changes in body composition. Estradiol was significantly less for the POST-M participants at pretraining compared with the PERI-M participants. CAF moderately increased by 22% for the PERI-M participants in response to RT, whereas it significantly decreased by 49% for the POST-M participants. Ten weeks of RT reduced the circulating CAF in the POST-M women and might play a role in attenuating degenerative neuromuscular junction changes.

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Pai-Yun Cheng, Hsiao-Feng Chieh, Chien-Ju Lin, Hsiu-Yun Hsu, Jia-Jin J. Chen, Li-Chieh Kuo and Fong-Chin Su

This study aims toward an investigation and comparison of the digital force control and the brain activities of older adults and young groups during digital pressing tasks. A total of 15 young and 15 older adults were asked to perform force ramp tasks at different force levels with a custom pressing system. Near-infrared spectroscopy was used to collect the brain activities in the prefrontal cortex and primary motor area. The results showed that the force independence and hand function of the older adults were worse than that of the young adults. The cortical activations in the older adults were higher than those in the young group during the tasks. A significant hemodynamic between-group response and mild negative correlations between brain activation and force independence ability were found. Older adults showed poor force independence ability and manual dexterity and required additional brain activity to compensate for the degeneration.

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Sabrine N. Costa, Edgar R. Vieira and Paulo C. B. Bento

The aims of this study were to compare the effects of a multicomponent exercise program provided at a center (CB) versus done part at home and part at a center (H+CB) on frailty status, strength, physical function, and gait of prefrail older women. Twenty-five women were randomly allocated into the CB (n = 14; 69 ± 6 years) and the H+CB (n = 11; 69 ± 7 years) groups. Both groups completed an exercise program including strengthening, balance, and gait exercises. The program was 12 weeks long, done three times per week, for 60 min per session. Frailty, knee and hip muscle strength, spatiotemporal parameters of the usual and maximum speed dual-task gait, and physical function were assessed at baseline and after program completion. The exercise program reversed the prefrail status of most participants independently of the mode of delivery. Strength increased in both groups, but the CB group had more pronounced improvements in gait and physical function. H+CB exercise programs are good options for prefrail older women.

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Marina Arkkukangas, Susanna Tuvemo Johnson, Karin Hellström, Elisabeth Anens, Michail Tonkonogi and Ulf Larsson

This study investigates the effectiveness of two fall-prevention exercise interventions targeting physical performance, activity level, fall-related self-efficacy, health-related quality of life, and falls: the Otago Exercise Programme (OEP) with and the OEP without behavior change support. In this randomized controlled trial, 175 participants were randomized into two intervention groups and one control group. A total of 124 community-dwelling older adults aged 75 and older who needed walking aids or home support participated in the 2-year follow-up. The OEP with and without support for behavior change displayed no long-term benefits on physical performance, fall-related self-efficacy, health-related quality of life, and falls compared with a control group. Although no significant differences were detected between the groups, the results implied the control group’s physical activity level decreased compared with the intervention groups at 2-year follow-up.

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Katie A. Conway and Jason R. Franz

The authors elucidated functional limitations in older adult gait by increasing horizontal impeding forces and walking speed to their maximums compared with dynamometry and with data from their young counterparts. Specifically, the authors investigated which determinants of push-off intensity represent genuine functionally limiting impairments in older adult gait versus biomechanical changes that do not directly limit walking performance. They found that older adults walked at their preferred speed with hallmark deficits in push-off intensity. These subjects were fully capable of overcoming deficits in propulsive ground reaction force, trailing limb positive work, trailing leg and hip extension, and ankle power generation when the propulsive demands of walking were increased to maximum. Of the outcomes tested, age-related deficits in ankle moment emerged as the lone genuine functionally limiting impairment in older adults. Distinguishing genuine functional limitations from age-related differences masquerading as limitations represents a critical step toward the development and prescription of effective interventions.