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Marie-Louise Bird and James Fell

This study investigated the effect of Pilates exercise on physical fall risk factors 12 months after an initial 5-week Pilates intervention. The authors hypothesized that ongoing Pilates participation would have a positive effect on physical fall risk factors in those who continued with Pilates exercise compared with those who ceased. Thirty older ambulatory adults (M = 69 years, SD = 7) participated in Pilates classes for 5 weeks with testing preintevention (Time 1 [T1]) and postintervention (Time 2 [T2]) and 12 months later (Time 3 [T3]). Balance and leg strength were compared using a 2-way analysis of variance with repeated measures. Postural sway, dynamic balance, and function improvements evident after the initial Pilates training (T1–T2) were maintained at T3 (p < .01). Significant differences existed at T3 for dynamic balance and strength between participants who continued performing Pilates (n = 14) and those who had ceased. Balance improvements after a short Pilates intervention were maintained 1 year later in all participants, with increased benefits from ongoing participation.

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Timothy J. Gibbons and Marie-Louise Bird

Background: The training of abdominal muscles has a positive impact on the functional capacity of healthy adults, being applied practically in fields of athletics and fitness through rehabilitation for lower back pain. Objective: The study compares abdominal muscle activity while performing graded isometric exercises on stable and unstable surfaces. The authors also examined perceived stability and comfort for the different surfaces. Methods: A total of 30 young, healthy adults performed 3 graded isometric exercises on a Pilates table, foam roller, and Oov (a newly developed tool). Ultrasound investigation measured transversus abdominis, internal oblique abdominis, and external oblique abdominis thickness during each task, comparing muscle thickness between conditions using general linear modeling. Results: Core abdominal activation was greater on the foam roller than the Oov and Pilates table during crook lying (bilateral leg support). Both Oov and foam roller elicited greater contralateral transversus abdominis and internal oblique abdominis thickness than the Pilates table during tabletop and straight leg raises (unilateral leg exercises). For transversus abdominis only, the foam roller elicited more muscle thickness than the Oov during straight leg raises. The Oov was rated more comfortable than the foam roller. Discussion: Exercises performed on the Oov and foam roller elicit core greater abdominal muscle thickness than those performed on a Pilates table. Unilateral leg exercises in a supine position elicit more contralateral muscle thickness than those with bilateral leg support. Conclusions: These results provide information to support choices in exercise progression from flat stable to more unstable surfaces and from those with bilateral foot support to unilateral foot support. The Oov was more comfortable that the foam roller, and this may help with exercise adherence.

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Marie-Louise Bird, Keith Hill, Madeleine Ball, and Andrew D. Williams

This research explored the balance benefits to untrained older adults of participating in community-based resistance and flexibility programs. In a blinded randomized crossover trial, 32 older adults (M = 66.9 yr) participated in a resistance-exercise program and a flexibility-exercise program for 16 weeks each. Sway velocity and mediolateral sway range were recorded. Timed up-and-go, 10 times sit-to-stand, and step test were also assessed, and lower limb strength was measured. Significant improvements in sway velocity, as well as timed up-and-go, 10 times sit-to-stand, and step test, were seen with both interventions, with no significant differences between the 2 groups. Resistance training resulted in significant increases in strength that were not evident in the flexibility intervention. Balance performance was significantly improved after both resistance training and standing flexibility training; however, further investigation is required to determine the mechanisms responsible for the improvement.

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Sally J. McLaine, Karen A. Ginn, Cecilia M. Kitic, James W. Fell, and Marie-Louise Bird

Context: The reliable measurement of shoulder strength is important when assessing athletes involved in overhead activities. Swimmers' shoulders are subject to repetitive humeral elevation and consequently have a high risk of developing movement-control issues and pain. Shoulder-strength tests performed in positions of elevation assist with the detection of strength deficits that may affect injury and performance. The reliability of isometric strength tests performed in positions of humeral elevation without manual stabilization, which is a typical clinical scenario, has not been established. Objective: To establish the relative and absolute intrarater reliability of shoulder-strength tests functional to swimming in 3 body positions commonly used in the clinical setting. Design: Repeated-measures reliability study. Setting: Research laboratory. Subjects: 15 university students and staff (mean ± SD age 24 ± 8.2 y).Intervention: Isometric shoulder-strength tests were performed in positions of humeral elevation (flexion and extension in 140° abduction in the scapular plane, internal and external rotation in 90° abduction) on subjects without shoulder pain in supine, prone, and sitting. Subjects were tested by 1 examiner with a handheld dynamometer and retested after 48 h. Main Outcome Measures: Relative reliability (ICC3,1) values with 95% CI. Absolute reliability was reported by minimal detectable change (MDC). Results: Good to excellent intrarater reliability was found for all shoulder-strength tests (ICC .87-.99). Intrarater reliability was not affected by body position. MDC% was <16% for every test and ≤11% for tests performed in supine. Conclusions: Shoulder flexion, extension, and internal- and external-rotation strength tests performed in humeral elevation demonstrated excellent to good intrarater reliability regardless of body position. A strength change of more than 15% in any position can be considered meaningful.

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Marie-Louise Bird, Cecilia Shing, Casey Mainsbridge, Dean Cooley, and Scott Pedersen


Sedentary behavior is related to metabolic syndrome and might have implications for the long-term health of workers in a low activity environment. The primary aim of this pilot study was to determine activity levels of adults working at a University during work hours. A secondary aim was to determine the relationship between actual and perceived activity levels.


Activity levels of university staff (n = 15, male = 7, age = 53 ± 7 years, BMI = 26.5 ± 2.5kg·m2) were monitored over 5 consecutive workdays using SenseWear accelerometers, then participants completed a questionnaire of their perception of workplace sedentary time.


Each participant spent 71.5 ± 13.1% (358 ± 78 min) of their workday being sedentary (< 1.5 METs), 15.6 ± 9.0% involved in light activity (1.5–3 METs), 11.7 ± 10.0% in moderate activity (3–5 METs), and 1.1 ± 1.3% in vigorous activity (> 5 METs) (P < .0001). The mean difference between actual (SenseWear < 1.5 METs) and perceived sitting time was –2 ± 32%; however, perceived sedentary time was reported with a range of under-to-over estimation of –75% to 51%.


This pilot study identifies long periods of low metabolic activity during the workday and poor perception of individual sedentary time. Interventions to reduce sedentary time in the workplace may be necessary to ensure that the work environment does not adversely affect long-term health.