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Christian J. Thompson and Wayne H. Osness

Substantial research has indicated the beneficial effect of physical activity on physical fitness and activities of daily living in older adults, but none have investigated the effects on performance of recreational activities. This investigation studied the effect of an exercise program on fitness and golf-clubhead speed in older men. Thirty-one golfers (mean age 65.1 ± 6.2 years) were randomly assigned to a treatment (n = 19) or control (n = 12) group. The treatment group completed an 8-week strength and flexibility program. Assessments included 10-RM muscle strength; selected range-of-motion (ROM) measurements; and golf-clubhead speed (CHS). ANCOVA revealed significant differences between groups (p < .005) for all strength measurements and several ROM measurements. CHS was significantly different (p < .05) between groups after the intervention. Mean CHS improved from 85.0 to 87.1 miles/hr (136.8 to 140.2 km/hr). These results indicate that a strength and flexibility program can improve golf performance in older adults.

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Laura Capranica, Monica Tiberi, Francesco Figura, and Wayne H. Osness

This study compared functional fitness scores of American and Italian older adults on the AAHPERD test battery for adults over 60 years old. Sedentary participants (N = 186, age 60–79 years) undertook the 6 AAHPERD test items: Between American and Italian men, no statistically significant difference was found for coordination and endurance. American men scored better on flexibility and strength, whereas Italian men scored better on body mass index (BMI) and agility. Between American and Italian women, no statistically significant difference was found for BMI and agility. American women scored better on coordination and endurance, whereas Italian women scored better on flexibility and strength. The data suggest that the AAHPERD test battery is an appropriate tool for assessing and comparing functional fitness levels of older adults in different societies.

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Jan M. Schroeder, Karen L. Nau, Wayne H. Osness, and Jeffrey A. Potteiger

Measurements of functional ability, balance, strength, flexibility, life satisfaction, and physical activity were compared among three populations of older adults (age 75-85 years). Sixty-nine subjects performed the Physical Performance Test (PPT). timed Up and Go. 1 repetition maximum (IRM) leg press and extensions, and Modified Sit and Reach. The Physical Activity Questionnaire for the Elderly and Satisfaction With Life Scale were also completed. No difference was found among the groups for life satisfaction. Individuals living in a nursing facility had poorer PPT scores, dynamic balance, leg extension strength, leg press strength, flexibility, and physical activity than individuals living in assisted-care facilities and the community. Assisted-care individuals had significantly lower PPT scores and leg strength than community-living individuals. The decline of ADL performance and physical activity may be accounted for by loss of strength, balance, and flexibility, all associated with a loss of independence.