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Jo-Ana D. Chase, Lorraine J. Phillips and Marybeth Brown

The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to determine the effects of supervised resistance and/or aerobic training physical activity interventions on performance-based measures of physical functioning among community-dwelling older adults, and to identify factors impacting intervention effectiveness. Diverse search strategies were used to identify eligible studies. Standardized mean difference effect sizes (d, ES) were synthesized using a random effects model. Moderator analyses were conducted using subgroup analyses and meta-regression. Twenty-eight studies were included. Moderator analyses were limited by inconsistent reporting of sample and intervention characteristics. The overall mean ES was 0.45 (k = 38, p ≤ .01), representing a clinically meaningful reduction of 0.92 s in the Timed Up and Go for treatment versus control. More minutes per week (p < .01) and longer intervention session duration (p < .01) were associated with larger effects. Interventions were especially effective among frail participants (d = 1.09). Future research should clearly describe sample and intervention characteristics and incorporate frail populations.

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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.

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M. Elaine Cress, David M. Buchner, Thomas Prohaska, James Rimmer, Marybeth Brown, Carol Macera, Loretta DiPietro and Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko

Physical activity offers one of the greatest opportunities for people to extend years of active independent life and reduce functional limitations. The article identifies key practices for promoting physical activity in older adults, with a focus on those with chronic disease or low fitness and those with low levels of physical activity. Key practices identified: (a) A multidimensional activity program that includes endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility training is optimal for health and functional benefits; (b) principles of behavior change including social support, self-efficacy, active choices, health contracts, assurances of safety, and positive reinforcement enhance adherence; (c) manage risk by beginning at low intensity but gradually increasing to moderate physical activity, which has a better risk:benefit ratio and should be the goal for older adults; (d) an emergency procedure plan is prudent for community-based programs; and (e) monitoring aerobic intensity is important for progression and motivation. Selected content review of physical activity programming from major organizations and institutions is provided.