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