Older adults gain many health benefits from riding bicycles regularly. We aimed to explore whether older persons who ride bicycles regularly have better balance than controls. Balance control and voluntary stepping were assessed in 20 older adults aged 65–85 years who live in an agricultural community village and who ride bicycles regularly, and 30 age- and gender-matched nonbicycle riders (NBR). Self-reported function and fear of fall were also assessed. Bicycle riders (BR) showed significantly better balance, faster voluntary stepping, and better self-reported advanced lower-extremity function compared with NBR. The results might suggest that bicycling regularly preserves balance control and speed of voluntary stepping in older adults because bicycling might maintain specific balance coordination patterns. The results should be treated with caution as bicycle riders were older adults who selected an active lifestyle (i.e., bicycling as well as living in an agricultural village) that may bias the results.
Shani Batcir and Itshak Melzer
Hadas Gabizon, Yan Press, Ilia Volkov, and Itshak Melzer
To evaluate the effect of a group-based Pilates training program on balance control and health status in healthy older adults.
A single-blind, randomized, controlled trial.
A total of 88 community-dwelling older adults (age 71.15 ± 4.30 years), without evidence of functional balance impairment, were recruited and allocated at random to a Pilates intervention group (n = 44) or a control group (n = 44).
The Pilates intervention group received 36 training sessions over three months (3 sessions a week), while the control group did not receive any intervention.
Standing upright postural stability, performance-based measures of balance, and self-reported health status was assessed in both groups at baseline and at the end of the intervention period.
Compared with the control group, the Pilates intervention did not improve postural stability, baseline functional measures of balance, or health status.
The results suggest that because Pilates training is not task specific, it does not improve balance control or balance function in independent older adults.
Yoav Gimmon, Hisham Rashad, Ilan Kurz, Meir Plotnik, Raziel Riemer, Ronen Debi, Amir Shapiro, and Itshak Melzer
Human gait is symmetric and bilaterally coordinated in young healthy persons. In this study, we aimed to explore the differences in bilateral coordination of gait as measured by the phase coordination index (PCI), gait asymmetry, and stride time variability of gait between four age groups. A total of 44 older adults were recruited: nine young-old (age 70–74 years), 26 old (age 75–84 years), nine old-old (>85 years and older), and 13 young adults (age 20–30 years). Subjects walked on a treadmill; walking speed was systematically increased from 0.5 to 0.9 m/s in steps of 0.1 m/s. There were marginal effects of age on PCI, significant main effects of walking speeds without interaction between walking speeds and age group. A difference in PCI could distinguish between young’s and late aging group, and only during their preferred treadmills walking speed. This study explicitly shows that bilateral coordination of walking is modified by gait speed, and deteriorates only at a very old age.