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Ronita L. Cromwell and Roberta A. Newton

Age-related adaptations during walking create a more stable walking pattern, which is less effective for forward progression and might be related to balance deficiencies. This study determined the relationship between walking stability and measures of balance in older adults. Seventeen older and 20 young adults performed the Berg Balance Test (BBT) and walked 10 m. Walking velocity (WV) and cadence were measured, and a gait-stability ratio (GSR) was calculated. Higher GSR indicated that a greater portion of the gait cycle was spent in double-limb support. Age-group comparisons established declines in BBT scores and WV and increases in GSR with age. Significant relationships were identified for BBT Item 12 (alternate stepping on a stool) with WV (r = .58, r 2 = .34) and GSR (r = −.74, r 2 = .54). The correlation of BBT Item 12 with GSR was stronger than with WV (p < .05). Results indicated a strong relationship between increased gait stability and decreased balance for a dynamic weight-shifting task. Therefore, GSR is a better indicator of balance deficits during walking than is WV alone.

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Dennis W. Klima, Roberta A. Newton, Emily A. Keshner and Adam Davey

Studies examining fear of falling among older adult men remain limited. The objectives of this study were to compare balance confidence in 2 age cohorts of older clergy and identify predictive determinants of balance confidence in a liturgical research initiative. Participants included 131 community-dwelling Roman Catholic priests age 60–97 yr living in religious communities in 10 mid-Atlantic states. Subjects completed the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale (ABC), Berg Balance Scale (BBS), timed up-and-go (TUG) test, and 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Younger priests (60–74 yr) demonstrated a significantly higher ABC score than the older cohort (75 and above yr) of priests (89.1 ± 12.6 vs.78.4 ± 13.9, p = .001). Confidence was significantly correlated with BBS (rho = .69, p < .01), TUG (r = –.58, p < .01), and GDS (r = –.39, p < .01) scores. A stepwise-regression model demonstrated that balance ability, mood, assistive-device use, and physical activity predicted 52% of the variance in balance confidence.

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Bang Hyun Kim, Roberta A. Newton, Michael L. Sachs, Peter R. Giacobbi Jr. and Joseph J. Glutting

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a 6-wk intervention that used guided relaxation and exercise imagery (GREI) to increase self-reported leisure-time exercise behavior among older adults. A total of 93 community-dwelling healthy older adults (age 70.38 ± 8.15 yr, 66 female) were randomly placed in either a placebo control group or an intervention group. The intervention group received instructions to listen to an audio compact disk (CD) containing a GREI program, and the placebo control group received an audio CD that contained 2 relaxation tracks and instructions to listen to music of their choice for 6 wk. Results revealed that listening to a GREI CD for 6 wk significantly increased self-reported leisure-time exercise behaviors (p = .03). Further exploration of GREI and its effects on other psychological variables related to perceived exercise behaviors may substantiate its effectiveness.