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Chiung-ju Liu, Leah Y. Jones, Alyssa R. M. Formyduval and Daniel O. Clark

The purpose of this feasibility study was to evaluate the 3-Step Workout for Life program, a 10-week exercise program that included moderate-intensity muscle strength training followed by task-oriented training. Fourteen participants completed the program (mean age = 73 years; SD = 6.83). The Box and Block test (Z = −2.24, p = .03) and the 30-s chair stand test (Z = −2.21, p = .03) indicate improved physical functioning of the upper and lower extremities. More importantly, results of the function component from the Late-Life Function and Disability Instrument (Z = −2.04, p = .04) and motor skills scale from the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (Z = −2.97, p = .003) indicate subjective and objective improvements on performing activities of daily living. Supplementing moderate-intensity muscle strength exercise with taskoriented training components is feasible. Preliminary data support the effectiveness of 3-Step Workout for Life in reducing late-life disability.

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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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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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Kimberly Hannam, Kevin Deere, Sue Worrall, April Hartley and Jon H. Tobias

The purpose of this study was to establish the feasibility of using an aerobics class to produce potentially bone protective vertical impacts of ≥ 4g in older adults and to determine whether impacts can be predicted by physical function. Participants recruited from older adult exercise classes completed an SF-12 questionnaire, short physical performance battery, and an aerobics class with seven different components, performed at low and high intensity. Maximum g and jerk values were identified for each activity. Forty-one participants (mean 69 years) were included. Mean maximal values approached or exceeded the 4g threshold for four of the seven exercises. In multivariate analyses, age (−0.53; −0.77, −0.28) (standardized beta coefficient; 95% CI) and 4-m walk time (−0.39; −0.63, −0.16) were inversely related to maximum g. Aerobics classes can be used to produce relatively high vertical accelerations in older individuals, although the outcome is strongly dependent on age and physical function.

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George J. Salem, Sean P. Flanagan, Man-Ying Wang, Joo-Eun Song, Stanley P. Azen and Gail A. Greendale

Stepping activities when wearing a weighted vest may enhance physical function in older persons. Using 3 weighted-vest resistance dosages, this study characterized the lower-extremity joint biomechanics associated with stepping activities in elders. Twenty healthy community-dwelling older adults, ages 74.5 ± 4.5 yrs, performed 3 trials of forward step-up and lateral step-up exercises while wearing a weighted vest which added 0% body weight (BW), 5% BW, or 10% BW. They performed these activities on a force platform while instrumented for biomechanical analysis. Repeated-measures ANOVA was used to evaluate the differences in ankle, knee, and hip maximum joint angles, peak net joint moments, joint powers, and impulses among both steping activities and the 3 loading conditions. Findings indicated that the 5% BW vest increased the kinetic output associated with the exercise activities at all three lower-extremity joints. These increases ranged from 5.9% for peak hip power to 12.5% for knee extensor impulse. The application of an additional 5% BW resistance did not affect peak joint moments or powers, but it did increase the joint impulses by 4–11%. Comparisons between exercise activities, across the 3 loading conditions, indicated that forward stepping preferentially targeted the hip extensors while lateral stepping targeted the plantar flexors; both activities equally targeted the knee extensors. Weighted-vest loads of 5% and 10% BW substantially increased the mechanical demand on the knee extensors, hip extensors (forward stepping), and ankle plantar flexors (lateral stepping).

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

Purpose:

Gait speed is related to physical function in older adults. This cross-sectional study examined the best predictors of maximal gait speed (MGS) among physical abilities, and general factors in healthy, rural community-dwelling older adults.

Methods:

MGS, muscle strength, and postural sway were measured in 55 community-dwelling participants (age, 72.1 ± 6.8, range 61–87 years; 72.7% women). Two stepwise regressions were used to find MGS predictors in two models: physical abilities and global.

Results:

Strength of knee extensors with 60° of knee flexion (KStrength60°) and maximal distance in the anterior-posterior direction with eyes closed explained 50.2% of MGS variance (p < .05) in the physical abilities model. KStrength60°, age, and level of physical activity explained 63.9% of MGS variance (p < .05) in the global model.

Conclusions:

Regardless of the model, KStrength60° was the best predictor of MGS in rural female older adults. Future research should examine the generalization of these findings to rural male older adults.

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Katherine S. Hall and Edward McAuley

Background:

Few studies have examined physical activity behavior and its associated outcomes in older adults living in retirement communities. Guided by the disablement model and social cognitive theory, we tested a cross-sectional model in which physical activity was hypothesized to influence disability indirectly through self-efficacy, functional performance, and functional limitations.

Methods:

One hundred six older men and women residing in independent-living (ILF) assisted-living (ALF) facilities completed self-report measures of self-efficacy, function, and disability. Objective assessments of physical activity and functional performance were conducted using waist-mounted accelerometers and the short physical performance battery (SPPB), respectively. Path analysis was used to examine the proposed associations among constructs.

Results:

Older adults who were more active were also more efficacious and had better physical function and fewer functional limitations. Only higher levels of self-efficacy were associated with less disability. The effects of individual-level covariates were also examined.

Conclusions:

This cross-sectional study is among the first to examine the associations between physical activity, function, and disability among older adults residing in ILFs and ALFs. Future research addressing the physical and psychological needs of this growing population is warranted.

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Kristen M. Beavers, Fang-Chi Hsu, Monica C. Serra, Veronica Yank, Marco Pahor and Barbara J. Nicklas

Observational studies show a relationship between elevated serum uric acid (UA) and better physical performance and muscle function. The purpose of this paper was to determine whether regular participation in an exercise intervention, known to improve physical functioning, would result in increased serum UA. For this study, 424 older adults at risk for physical disability were randomized to participate in either a 12-mo moderate-intensity physical activity (PA) or a successful aging (SA) health education intervention. UA was measured at baseline, 6, and 12 mo (n = 368, 341, and 332, respectively). Baseline UA levels were 6.03 ± 1.52 mg/dl and 5.94 ± 1.55 mg/dl in the PA and SA groups, respectively. The adjusted mean UA at month 12 was 4.8% (0.24 mg/dl) higher in the PA compared with the SA group (p = .028). Compared with a health education intervention, a 1-yr PA intervention results in a modest increase in systemic concentration of UA in older adults at risk for mobility disability.

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Takashi Kamijo and Masami Murakami

Background:

Lifestyle-related diseases among middle-age and elderly people have become serious problems. Underlying causes might be related to the changes in the lifestyle including the absence of regular physical exercise.

Methods:

To clarify the significance of regular physical exercise to prevent lifestyle-related diseases, we studied motor functions and blood chemistry examinations in middle-age and elderly women (over 40 years old) who performed regular physical exercise for 2 years (exercise group) and those who initially did not (control group).

Results:

In study 1, VO2max significantly increased in the exercise group compared with the control group in the under 60 years old groups. In the over 60 years old groups, VO2max, foot balance, and HDL-cholesterol significantly increased. Plasma glucose at 120 minutes after the 75 g oral glucose tolerance test, fasting insulin, homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-R), and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) significantly decreased in the exercise group compared with the control group. In study 2, a 1-year exercise program significantly improved physical functions and biochemical markers in the control group.

Conclusion:

These results suggest that regular physical exercise might help to maintain sound motor functions and decrease insulin resistance and a risk for arteriosclerosis.