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Adrienne J. McNamara, Michael J. Pavol, and Katherine B. Gunter


Community-based exercise programs are popular for achieving physical activity among older adults, but the amount of physical activity obtained through such programs is unknown. This study quantified the bone-loading forces and levels of cardiovascular activity associated with participation in “Better Bones and Balance” (BBB), a community-based fall- and fracture-prevention program for older adults.


Thirty-six postmenopausal women age 73.2 ± 7.6 yr engages in BBB participated in this study. Ground-reaction forces (GRFs) associated with BBB exercises were evaluated using a force platform. Session and weekly totals of minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and total time spent above 55% maximum heart rate (HR) were measured using accelerometers and HR monitors, respectively.


BBB exercises produced mean 1-leg GRFs of 1.4–2.2 units body weight. Weekly BBB participation was associated with 126 ± 31 min of MVPA.


Activity obtained by BBB participation meets recommended guidelines for skeletal and cardiovascular health.

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Jessica C. Dobek, Karen N. White, and Katherine B. Gunter

The purpose of this study was to determine the degree to which a novel training program based on activities of daily living (ADL) would affect performance of ADLs, as well as the fitness of older adults. Fourteen individuals (mean age 82 years) took part in a 10-week control period followed by a 10-week ADL-based training program. Pre- and posttests included the Physical Performance Test (PPT), the Physical Functional Performance–10 (PFP-10), and the Senior Fitness Test (SFT). After the training period, improvements ranging from 7% to 33% (p < .05) were seen on the PPT and PFP-10 and on three items of the SFT. After conversion to standard scores, the magnitude of change in the PPT and the PFP-10 was significantly greater (p < .05) than the magnitude of change in the SFT. These data support the idea that this novel ADL-based training program was able to facilitate improved performance of ADLs, as well as select measures of fitness among older adults.

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Emily J. Tomayko, Katherine B. Gunter, John M. Schuna Jr., and Paul N. Thompson

Background: Use of 4-day school weeks (FDSWs) as a cost-saving strategy has increased substantially as many US school districts face funding declines. However, the impacts of FDSWs on physical activity exposure and related outcomes are unknown. This study examined physical education (PE) exposure and childhood obesity prevalence in 4- versus 5-day Oregon schools; the authors hypothesized lower PE exposure and higher obesity in FDSW schools, given reduced school environment exposure. Methods: The authors utilized existing data from Oregon to compare 4- versus 5-day models: t tests compared mean school-level factors (PE exposure, time in school, enrollment, and demographics) and complex samples weighted t tests compared mean child-level obesity data for a state representative sample of first to third graders (N = 4625). Results: Enrollment, time in school, and student–teacher ratio were significantly lower in FDSW schools. FDSW schools provided significantly more PE, both in minutes (120 vs 101 min/wk in 4- vs 5-d schools, P < .01) and relative to total time in school (6.9% vs 5.0%, P < .0001). Obesity prevalence did not differ significantly between school models. Conclusion: Greater PE exposure in FDSW schools was observed, and it remains unknown whether differences in PE exposure contributed to obesity prevalence in this sample of students. Efforts to better understand how FDSWs impact physical activity, obesity risk, and related factors are needed.

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Karen N. White, Katherine B. Gunter, Christine M. Snow, and Wilson C. Hayes

The Quick Step measures reaction time and lateral stepping velocity. Upon a visual cue, participants step to the side as quickly as possible. Instrumentation includes floor pads with pressure-sensitive switches and two timers. In all, 109 older adults who had experienced a recent fall, 46 older adult nonfallers, and 24 young adults volunteered for testing. Reliability for reaction time and stepping velocity was good to excellent (intraclass correlation = 0.69–0.85). Multivariate analysis of variance revealed a significant difference between groups, p < 0.01, but not between stepping directions, p = 0.62–0.72, for both reaction time and stepping velocity. Reaction times were different among the three groups, p < 0.01, with the young adults having the fastest times and the older adult fallers having the slowest times. Lateral stepping velocity was faster among the young adults than for the two older groups, p < 0.01, but did not differ between the older adults, p = 0.29. It is concluded that the Quick Step is a simple and reliable tool for determining reaction time and lateral stepping velocity, and that this test can be used to detect a significant difference in reaction time between older adult fallers and nonfallers.

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Patrick Abi Nader, Evan Hilberg, John M. Schuna, Deborah H. John, and Katherine B. Gunter

Background: Classroom-based physical activity (CBPA) breaks are a cost-effective strategy to promote physical activity (PA) at school. Despite teachers’ critical roles in sustained implementation of CBPA breaks, few studies examined the association of teacher-level factors with student PA levels, and none focused on rural schools. Methods: We monitored children’s PA levels over 4 consecutive school days at 6 rural Oregon elementary schools with Walk4Life pedometers. During the same week, teachers recorded all student PA opportunities (recess, PE, and CBPA breaks) and answered a 26-item questionnaire about factors influencing their use of CBPA breaks. Mixed-effects models were used to associate teacher-level factors and PA opportunities with children’s moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA; in minutes per day), controlling for child-level covariates. Results: When teachers valued PA, students accumulated more MVPA (1.07 min/d; P < .01) than students of teachers reporting low PA value. Students did more MVPA (1 min/d; P < .001) when teachers agreed the school operating conditions posed barriers to providing PA than when teachers disagreed that barriers existed. PE classes contributed significantly to student’s PA levels. Conclusion: Provision of PE, increasing teacher value for PA, and further investigation of how teacher-level factors relate to students’ MVPA levels during CBPA breaks at rural elementary schools are warranted.

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Katherine B. Gunter, Jennifer De Costa, Karen N. White, Karen Hooker, Wilson C. Hayes, and Christine M. Snow

This study assessed changes in balance self-efficacy (BSE) over 1 year in community-dwelling elderly, compared changes in BSE between fallers and nonfallers, and assessed the relationship between specific balance and mobility risk factors for side falls and BSE scores. Elderly fallers (n = 67; 80.2 ± 5.9 years) and nonfallers (n = 75; 79.4 ± 4.9), categorized based on self-reported falls over 1 year, were tested at baseline on postural sway, hip-abduction strength, lateral-stepping velocity, tandem walk, and get-up-and-go and given a BSE questionnaire. Fallers had lower BSE scores than nonfallers did (141.6 ± 33.5 and 154.9 ± 25.4; p = .008). BSE did not change over 1 year. In stepwise regression, BSE scores were predictive of time on the get-up-and-go, mediolateral sway, and tandem walk independent of age, height, and strength (p < .001). The BSE scale might be useful for screening individuals at risk for injurious falls because it is inexpensive and noninvasive.