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Kiyoji Tanaka, Ryosuke Shigematsu, Masaki Nakagaichi, Hunkyung Kim and Nobuo Takeshima

In Japan, 2 approaches have been adopted to assess health and functional status in older adults. One is a battery of physical-performance tasks. The other is estimation of physical vitality using biomedical risk factors. Previous research has examined strength and direction of the relationship between functional fitness and performance on activities of daily living. Vital-age tests have most often been used to assess risk for developing a variety of age-related diseases. The present study examined interrelationships among functional fitness and vital-age scores in Japanese women (N = 129, mean age = 71.9). The functional fitness test battery consisted of arm curls, walking around 2 cones, moving beans with chopsticks, and functional reach. The vital-age test battery consisted of 6 coronary heart disease risk factors (systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, abdominal girth, and hematocrit) and 5 physical-performance variables (oxygen uptake and heart rate at lactate threshold, side-to-side stepping, 1-leg balance with eyes closed, and forced expiratory volume).

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George J. Holland, Kiyoji Tanaka, Ryosuke Shigematsu and Masaki Nakagaichi

This review examines the influences of physiological aging processes on connective tissue, joint integrity, flexibility (range of motion [ROM]), and physical functions of older adults. Studies that attempted to improve older adults' ROM are also critiqued. Multiple mechanisms of musculoskeletal and soft-tissue degeneration, as well as disease processes (osteoporosis, arthritis, atherosclerosis), contribute to significant decreases in neuromuscular function and ROM in older adults, all of which can be exacerbated by disuse influences. No delineation of disuse effects on the rate of aging-related decrements in ROM can be provided, however, because long-term investigations (with physical activity controls) have not been conducted. Research efforts have documented both upper and lower extremity decrements in ROM with development of physical impairments, reductions in basic and instrumental activities of daily living, and progression of disability. There is limited research evidence that either specialized stretch-training or general-exercise intervention protocols moderately improve ROM in older adults and the frail elderly.

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Ryosuke Shigematsu, Linda M. Ueno, Masaki Nakagaichi, Hosung Nho and Kiyoji Tanaka

The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to monitor exercise intensity in older adults. Middle-aged (46.9 ± 7.0 years, n = 24) and older women (75.5 ± 3.8 years, n = 29) performed a graded maximal exercise test on a cycle ergometer while RPE, oxygen uptake, heart rate, and blood lactate levels were measured. The Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient between RPE and oxygen uptake for each stage of the graded exercise test was calculated for each participant. The mean coefficient for the older group (r = .954) was similar to that of middle-aged group (r = .963). The autocorrelation coefficient was much lower (r = .411) in the older group than in the middle-aged group (r = .871). Variability in RPE through the graded exercise test was similar between the two groups. In conclusion, RPE was strongly associated with oxygen uptake in the older group. These results indicate that RPE is effective in monitoring exercise intensity in older adults.