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Silvia Aranda-García, Albert Iricibar, Antoni Planas, Joan A. Prat-Subirana and Rosa M. Angulo-Barroso

This study evaluates the separate effect and retention of 12-week traditional (TE) and horse (HE) exercise programs on physical function in healthy older participants (61 to 87 years old). Thirty-eight participants were randomly assigned to three groups: TE (n = 17), HE (n = 10), and control group (n = 11). TE and HE underwent a supervised exercise program (3 day/week). Maximal gait speed, muscle strength, and body balance were assessed at weeks 0, 12, and 16. Only TE and HE displayed significant improvements (P < .05) in knee extensor strength, and only HE had faster gait speed. Marginal balance improvements were found only in HE in the medial-lateral direction. However, TE showed larger improvements in handgrip than HE. The largest retention was in knee extensor strength but most of the exercise effects were lost in the follow-up. Besides TE, exercise with a horse may be an alternative option to older adults, provided that they want to interact with the animal.

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Jack M. Guralnik, Suzanne Leveille, Stefano Volpato, Marcia S. Marx and Jiska Cohen-Mansfield

Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that, using objective performance measures of physical functioning, disability risk can be predicted in nondisabled older adults. This makes it possible to recruit a nondisabled but at-risk population for clinical trials of disability prevention. Successful disability prevention in this population, for example through an exercise program, would have a major public health impact. To enhance the development of exercise interventions in this group it would be valuable to have additional information not available from existing epidemiologic studies. This report examines the evidence that functional limitations preceding disability can be identified in a community-dwelling population and that it is feasible to recruit these people into studies. It introduces a series of articles examining the characteristics of this population: motivators and barriers to exercise, exercise habits and preferences, the impact of positive and negative affect, and the impact of pain and functional limitations on attitudes toward exercise.

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L. Jerome Brandon, Lisa W. Boyette, Adreinne Lloyd and Deborah A. Gaasch

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a 24-month moderate-intensity resistive-training intervention on strength and function in older adults. A repeated-measures experimental research design was employed as a sample of 55 apparently healthy, older, community-dwelling volunteers (30 exercisers—25 women and 5 men; 25 comparisons—16 women and 9 men) were evaluated for strength of 5 muscle groups that influence lower extremity movement and physical function. Strength and function were evaluated at 6-month intervals. The findings from this study indicate that a moderate-intensity resistive-training program increases strength in older adults and that the strength benefits are retained for the duration of the intervention. Furthermore, a long-term strength-training program can increase independent-function skills in older adults and might therefore aid in prolonging functional independence.

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Joanna S. Kostka, Jan W. Czernicki and Tomasz J. Kostka

We assessed the relative association of quadriceps muscle strength and power as well as optimal shortening velocity (υopt) to physical functioning in 28 women aged 50–87 years with chronic osteoarthritis participating in a three-week multimodal exercise program. Quadriceps muscle strength, power, υopt, and functional performance using the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) scale, Timed Up & Go (TUG) test, Tinetti test, and 6-Minute Walking Test (6-MWT) were assessed pre- and postrehabilitation. With rehabilitation, patients improved the values of strength, power, and the results of all functional tests. Both at baseline and postrehabilitation, functional status was more strongly related to power and υopt than to strength. Functional gains obtained with rehabilitation were not related to changes in power or υopt, and only very modestly related to changes in strength. Future studies should assess the benefits and feasibility of power- and velocity-oriented training in patients with osteoarthritis.

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Dori E. Rosenberg, Jacqueline Kerr, James F. Sallis, Gregory J. Norman, Karen Calfas and Kevin Patrick

The authors tested the feasibility and acceptability, and explored the outcomes, of 2 walking interventions based on ecological models among older adults living in retirement communities. An enhanced intervention (EI) was compared with a standard walking intervention (SI) among residents in 4 retirement facilities (N = 87 at baseline; mean age = 84.1 yr). All participants received a walking intervention including pedometers, printed materials, and biweekly group sessions. EI participants also received phone counseling and environmental-awareness components. Measures included pedometer step counts, activities of daily living, environment-related variables, physical function, depression, cognitive function, satisfaction, and adherence. Results indicated improvements among the total sample for step counts, neighborhood barriers, cognitive function, and satisfaction with walking opportunities. Satisfaction and adherence were high. Both walking interventions were feasible to implement among facility-dwelling older adults. Future studies can build on this multilevel approach.

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Yongwoo Lee, Wonjae Choi, Kyeongjin Lee, Changho Song and Seungwon Lee

Avatar-based three-dimensional technology is a new approach to improve physical function in older adults. The aim of this study was to use three-dimensional video gaming technology in virtual reality training to improve postural balance and lower extremity strength in a population of community-dwelling older adults. The experimental group participated in the virtual reality training program for 60 min, twice a week, for 6 weeks. Both experimental and control groups were given three times for falls prevention education at the first, third, and fifth weeks. The experimental group showed significant improvements not only in static and dynamic postural balance but also lower extremity strength (p < .05). Furthermore, the experimental group was improved to overall parameters compared with the control group (p < .05). Therefore, three-dimensional video gaming technology might be beneficial for improving postural balance and lower extremity strength in community-dwelling older adults.

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Justin W.L. Keogh, Andrew Kilding, Philippa Pidgeon, Linda Ashley and Dawn Gillis

Dancing is a mode of physical activity that may allow older adults to improve their physical function, health, and well-being. However, no reviews on the physical benefits of dancing for healthy older adults have been published in the scientific literature. Using relevant databases and keywords, 15 training and 3 cross-sectional studies that met the inclusion criteria were reviewed. Grade B–level evidence indicated that older adults can significantly improve their aerobic power, lower body muscle endurance, strength and flexibility, balance, agility, and gait through dancing. Grade C evidence suggested that dancing might improve older adults’ lower body bone-mineral content and muscle power, as well as reduce the prevalence of falls and cardiovascular health risks. Further research is, however, needed to determine the efficacy of different forms of dance, the relative effectiveness of these forms of dance compared with other exercise modes, and how best to engage older adults in dance participation.

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Corjena Cheung, Jean F. Wyman and Kay Savik

Yoga is beneficial for osteoarthritis (OA) management in older adults; however, adherence to yoga practice is unknown. The purposes of this secondary analysis were to examine: (1) yoga adherence during the intervention and follow-up periods; (2) the relationship between social cognitive theory (SCT) constructs and adherence; and (3) the impact of adherence on OA-related symptoms in 36 community-dwelling older women with knee OA. SCT was used as a framework to promote adherence to a yoga intervention program that included both group/home-based practices. Adherence to yoga was high during the intervention period but decreased over time. Although SCT was a useful framework for reducing attrition during the intervention, self-efficacy was the only construct that correlated with class attendance. Higher yoga adherence was correlated with improved symptoms, physical function, sleep quality, and quality of life. Yoga adherers were likely to be older, less educated, and had a lower body mass index than nonadherers.

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Lisa M. Warner, Jochen P. Ziegelmann, Benjamin Schüz, Susanne Wurm and Ralf Schwarzer

The purpose of the current study was to examine whether the effects of social support on physical exercise in older adults depend on individual perceptions of self-efficacy. Three hundred nine older German adults (age 65–85) were assessed at 3 points in time (3 months apart). In hierarchical-regression analyses, support received from friends and exercise self-efficacy were specified as predictors of exercise frequency while baseline exercise, sex, age, and physical functioning were controlled for. Besides main effects of self-efficacy and social support, an interaction between social support and self-efficacy emerged. People with low self-efficacy were less likely to be active in spite of having social support. People with low support were less likely to be active even if they were high in self-efficacy. This points to the importance of both social support and self-efficacy and implies that these resources could be targets of interventions to increase older adults’ exercise.

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Lorraine J. Phillips and Marcia Flesner

This qualitative study investigated individual and situational factors influencing physical activity (PA) practices of elders in residential-care/assisted-living (RC/ AL) communities. This article describes the results of focus-group interviews involving 47 residents across 6 RC/AL settings. Thematic analysis revealed 6 themes: staying active, past PA experiences, value of PA, barriers to PA, strategies to facilitate PA, and support needs to promote PA. Staying active meant walking indoors and out, attending chair-exercise programs, performing professionally prescribed home exercises, and using available exercise equipment. Past PA experiences shaped current preferences and practices. Participants agreed that exercise helped maintain physical functioning but recounted cognitive and situational barriers to PA. Lack of dedicated exercise space and short corridors hampered efforts to stay active. Participants wished for individualized home exercise programs and supervised exercise sessions. Future research should examine the extent to which the physical environment and PA programming in RC/AL communities affect elders’ PA.