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Marja H. Westhoff, Lysander Stemmerik and Hendriek C. Boshuizen

This study’s purpose was to investigate whether a 10-week low-intensity strength-training program could improve strength of the knee extensors and functional ability. Participants 65 years and older with low knee-extensor muscle strength were randomized into an exercise (n = 11) and a control group (n = 10). Knee-extensor strength and functional ability were measured before and after the program and again 6 months later. Knee-extensor strength (Nm) increased by 54% (13% in the control) by the end of the training program (F = 13.02, p = .01), and most of this improvement was still present 6 months later. The program had a beneficial effect on functional tasks, especially the time taken to rise from a chair in combination with a 3-m walk (F = 3.99, p = .03) and self-reported ability related to lower extremity performance (F = 6.97, p = .02). It seems that this program could contribute to improving functional ability in frail older people.

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Hendriek C. Boshuizen, Lysander Stemmerik, Marja H. Westhoff and Marijke Hopman-Rock

Elderly participants experiencing difficulty in chair rising and with a maximum knee-extensor torque below 87.5 N · m were randomized to different versions of a strength-training program for the knee-extensors: to a high-guidance group (HG; two group sessions supervised by a physical therapist and one unsupervised home session per week, n = 17), a medium-guidance group (MG; one supervised group session and two unsupervised home sessions per week, n = 16), or a control group (C; no exercise, n = 16). Maximal isometric knee strength increased more in HG than in C (p = .03) and with increasing guidance (p = .03). The effect was mainly the result of participants with low initial strength. Walking speed increased more for HG than for C (p = .02) and than for MG (p = .06). No statistically significant improvements were seen on other functional tests. In summary, the study shows a trend toward better results with more supervision, but more and larger studies are needed to confirm this.