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  • Author: Elizabeth A. Chmelo x
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Anthony P. Marsh, Elizabeth A. Chmelo, Jeffrey A. Katula, Shannon L. Mihalko and W. Jack Rejeski

The purpose of this study was to determine whether a walking program supplemented by tasks designed to challenge balance and mobility (WALK+) could improve physical function more than a traditional walking program (WALK) in older adults at risk for mobility disability. 31 community-dwelling older adults (M ± SD age = 76 ± 5 yr; Short Physical Performance Battery [SPPB] score = 8.4 ± 1.7) were randomized to treatment. Both interventions were 18 sessions (1 hr, 3×/wk) and progressive in intensity and duration. Physical function was assessed using the SPPB and the 400-m-walk time. A subset of participants in the WALK group who had relatively lower baseline function showed only small improvement in their SPPB scores after the intervention (0.3 ± 0.5), whereas a subset of participants in the WALK+ group with low baseline function showed substantial improvement in their SPPB scores (2.2 ± 0.7). These preliminary data underscore the potential importance of tailoring interventions for older adults based on baseline levels of physical function.