This pilot study evaluated (a) the feasibility of a group exercise program in an institutionalized population with dementia; (b) the effects of such a program on physical performance measures; and (c) the potential additional effects of vitamin D supplementation on gait and muscle strength. Nursing home residents (N = 25) with chronic dementia and mobility impairments attended a thrice weekly exercise class for 8 weeks. They were randomly assigned to receive either a vitamin D supplement or no supplement throughout the program. Between-group differences in the effectiveness of the exercise intervention were analyzed. Pre-to-post changes were also assessed for both groups combined. In postexercise comparisons of both groups, knee extensor torque at 0°/sec declined by 18.6% while performance of 1-RM for hip extension increased by 16.1%. Balance also improved. Although vitamin D levels increased significantly in the supplement group, the two groups did not differ in their response to the exercise intervention.
Ellen F. Binder, Marybeth Brown, Suzanne Craft, Kenneth B. Schechtman, and Stanley J. Birge
Fifteen community dwelling older adults, ages 66 to 97 years, with at least one risk factor for recurrent falls, attended a thrice weekly group exercise class for 8 weeks. In post- versus preexercise comparisons, knee extensor torque at 0°/sec increased by 16.5% (p = 0.055); time to perform the stand-up test once, and five times consecutively, improved by 29.4 and 27.4%, respectively (p = 0.05, p = 0.01); gait speed for 24 feet increased by 16.5% (p < 0.001); and performance of the progressive Romberg test of balance improved with a mean increase of 1.1 ± 0.9 positions (p = 0.001). Participants reported a significant increase in the mean number of times per week that they went out of their apartment/home independent of exercising, and a significant increase in the mean number of city blocks they could walk. Performance data for nine exercise participants at 1-yr postintervention are presented. A low- to moderate-intensity groups exercise program can effect improvements in lower extremity strength, gait speed, balance, and self-reported mobility function in frail older adults.