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Claire Peel and Diane Ballard

The primary purpose of this study was to determine the reproducibility of the 6-min-walk test (6MWT) in older women. A secondary purpose was to document heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP), and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) in response to the 6MWT. Twenty-eight women with an average age of 80.0 years (±5.2) participated. They performed 2 trials of the 6MWT on 3 separate days, for a total of 6 trials. Heart rate, BP, RPE, and the total distance walked were recorded for each trial. The results indicated a significant increase from Trial 1 to Trial 2, with no differences between Trials 2–6, F(5, 131) = 7.02, p = .000. HR and BP were consistent across the 6 trials, and RPE was higher for the second trial on the second day of testing, F(5, 131) = 2.72, p = .023. The intraclass correlation coefficient for distance walked was .94. After the initial trial, performance on the 6MWT appears to be stable in older women.

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Claire Peel, Carolyn Utsey and Jan MacGregor

This study aimed to evaluate the effects of an 8-week supervised exercise program on physiological measurements during treadmill walking, muscle strength, functional performance, and health status in older adults limited in physical function. Twenty-four participants were randomly assigned to an exercise group (EG, N = 13) or a control group (CG, N = 11), and were evaluated before and after the exercise program (EG) or 8-week period (CG). Evaluations included a progressive treadmill lest, strength testing, the Physical Performance Test (PPT), and the SF-36 Health Survey. The exercise program consisted of 3 sessions per week of brisk walking and strengthening exercises. The EG demonstrated increases in cardiorespiratory fitness and increases in treadmill walking time. The EG also demonstrated increases in force production in 3 of the 6 muscle groups that were tested. Both the EG and CG demonstrated improvements in PPT scores and in 2 health concepts on the SF-36 Health Survey.

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Michelle Y. Martin, M. Paige Powell, Claire Peel, Sha Zhu and Richard Allman

This study examined whether leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) was associated with health-care utilization in a racially diverse sample of rural and urban older adults. Community-dwelling adults (N = 1,000, 75.32 ± 6.72 years old) self-reported participating in LTPA and their use of the health-care system (physician visits, number and length of hospitalizations, and emergency-room visits). After controlling for variables associated with health and health-care utilization, older adults who reported lower levels of LTPA also reported a greater number of nights in the hospital in the preceding year. There was no support, however, for a relationship between LTPA and the other indicators of health-care utilization. Our findings suggest that being physically active might translate to a quicker recovery for older adults who are hospitalized. Being physically active might not only have health benefits for older persons but also lead to lower health-care costs.