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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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Pamela E. Toto, Ketki D. Raina, Margo B. Holm, Elizabeth A. Schlenk, Elaine N. Rubinstein and Joan C. Rogers

This single-group repeated-measures pilot study evaluated the effects of a 10-wk, multicomponent, best-practice exercise program on physical activity, performance of activities of daily living (ADLs), physical performance, and depression in community-dwelling older adults from low-income households (N = 15). Comparison of pretest and posttest scores using a one-tailed paired-samples t test showed improvement (p < .05) for 2 of 3 ADL domains on the Activity Measure–Post Acute Care and for 6 physical-performance measures of the Senior Fitness Test. Repeated-measures ANOVA revealed significant main effects for 3 of 8 physical activity measures using the Yale Physical Activity Scale. Retention rate was 78.9%, and the adherence rate for group sessions was 89.7%. Results suggest that participation in a multicomponent, best-practice physical activity program may positively affect sedentary, community-dwelling older adults’ physical activity, ADL performance, and physical performance.

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Elissa Burton, Gill Lewin and Duncan Boldy

The 3 study objectives were to compare the activity levels of older people who had received a restorative home care service with those of people who had received “usual” home care, explore the predictors of physical activity in these 2 groups, and determine whether either group met the minimum recommended activity levels for their age group. A questionnaire was posted to 1,490 clients who had been referred for a home care service between 2006 and 2009. Older people who had received a restorative care service were more active than those who had received usual care (p = .049), but service group did not predict activity levels when other variables were adjusted for in a multiple regression. Younger individuals who were in better physical condition, with good mobility and no diagnosis of depression, were more likely to be active. Investigation of alternatives to the current exercise component of the restorative program is needed.

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Jin H. Yan and John H. Downing

Tai Chi, an ancieni form of Chinese fitness exercise, affords its participants a variety of physical and psychological benefits. Research has suggested that individuals engaging in Tai Chi exercises improve cardiovascular fitness and motor control while reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Tai Chi is particularly suitable for seniors, who are often at risk for a variety of problems associated with aging (e.g.. arthritis, neurological dysfunction, and general decline of balance, coordination, and locomotor function). Because of its self-paced. nonstressful, and noncompetitive nature, and its ability to afford economy of lime, space, and equipment, Tai Chi presents an effective, functional alternative exercise form for the senior adult population. This article presents the background of Tai Chi practice and introduces several key elements and suggestions for teaching Tai Chi to senior participants. Finally, some selected resources for Tai Chi practice are listed.

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Eric E. Hall and Steven J. Petruzzello

Physical activity has been consistently linked to better mental health—greater positive affect and life satisfaction, less negative affect, anxiety, and depression (Petruzzello et al., 1991; McAuley & Rudolph, 1995). Brain activation patterns have been linked to dispositional affect: greater relative left anterior hemisphere activation relates to positive affect, and greater relative right anterior activation relates to negative affect (Davidson, 1992). In this study, measures of resting EEG frontal asymmetry, dispositional affect, and physical activity were obtained from 41 older adults. Frontal asymmetry significantly predicted positive affect. In the high active group (n = 21), frontal asymmetry significantly predicted affective valence and satisfaction with life; in the low active group (n = 20), it significantly predicted negative affect. Physical activity was also significantly related to better dispositional affect. These findings suggest that the relationship between frontal brain activity and dispositional affect is influenced by physical activity in older adults.

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C. Jessie Jones, Carter Rakovski, Dana Rutledge and Angela Gutierrez

Purpose:

To compare fitness of women with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) aged 50+ with performance standards associated with functional independence in late life.

Methods:

Data came from a longitudinal study tracking physical and cognitive function of 93 women with FMS and included the most recent symptoms, activity levels, and fitness assessments.

Results:

Most women performed below criterion-referenced fitness standards for all measures. Nearly 90% percent of those < 70 years scored below the standard for lower body strength. Only ~20% of respondents < 70 years old met the criteria for aerobic endurance. A third of those aged over 70 met the standard in agility and dynamic balance. Physical activity was positively associated with fitness performance, while pain and depression symptoms were negatively associated.

Discussion:

High proportions of women with FMS do not meet fitness standards recommended for maintaining physical independence in late life, indicating a risk for disability. Regular fitness assessments and targeted exercise interventions are warranted.

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Keith Hill, Robyn Smith, Marcia Fearn, Mary Rydberg and Rachael Oliphant

This study evaluated health benefits of a supported physical activity program for 116 older carers (mean age 64.4 [SD = 7.9], 85% women). Participants undertook a 6-month center-based physical activity program (strength training, yoga, or Tai Chi). Eighty-eight participants (76%) completed the program. Multivariate repeated-measures ANOVA identified overall significant improvement postint-ervention (p = .004). Univariate analyses revealed significant improvements for balance, strength, gait endurance, depression, and SF-36 (physical component; p < .05). There was no change in the Zarit Carer Burden Scale (p > .05). Change in performance scores did not differ significantly between those with higher and lower attendance at classes, although there was significantly greater improvement in gait endurance and balance (p < .05) in those attending classes run twice weekly than in those attending once-weekly classes. In conclusion, a carer physical activity program, providing additional carer support to facilitate participation, can achieve high levels of involvement by carers and significant health benefits.

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Ching-Yi Wang, Ching-Fan Sheu and Elizabeth Protas

The purpose of this study was to test the construct validity of the hierarchical levels of self-reported physical disability using health-related variables and physical-performance tests as criteria. The study participants were a community-based sample of 368 adults age 60 years or older. These older adults were grouped into 4 levels according to their physical-disability status (able, mildly disabled, moderately disabled, and severely disabled groups) based on their self-reported measures on the mobility, instrumented activity of daily living (IADL), and activities of daily living (ADL) domains. Health-related variables (body-mass index, number of comorbidities, depression status, mental status, and self-perceived health status) and eight performance-based tests demonstrated significant group differences. Self-reported measures of physical disability can be used to categorize older adults into different stages of physical functional decline.

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Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Marcia S. Marx and Jack M. Guralnik

This study aimed to ascertain perceived barriers and motivators to exercise in people age 74–85 and to clarify the meaning of these barriers and motivators by examining participant characteristics that relate to them. 324 community-dwelling participants age 74–85 completed a health questionnaire that included items on barriers and motivators to exercise, as well as questions on demographic variables, health, and exercise. Selected participants then completed a physical-performance battery to measure functional performance. Barriers and motivators were related internally, as well as to many other factors including pain and depressed affect on the Geriatric Depression Scale. The findings suggest a need for individualized and comprehensive approaches to the presentation of exercise programs. Health interventions are needed that will address both physical pain and depressed affect and explain the importance of exercise even in the presence of health problems. An understanding of the context of reported barriers and motivators is necessary for correct interpretation and program development.

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Lyn Thaxton

This experiment examined, through quantitative measures, exercise dependence in subjects who had been running at least a year and ran at least 5 days a week. The subjects, 24 males and 9 females, were randomly assigned to groups according to the Solomon four-group design. Two groups ran and the other two did not on the day of the experiment. Pretests were given to one of the running and one of the nonrunning groups. Dependent variables were the Profile of Mood States (POMS) and galvanic skin response. Overall multivariate analysis showed a significant running by pretest interaction. The nonpretested running group revealed significantly lower depression (POMS) and GSR scores than the nonpretested nonrunning group. The results suggest that even slight variations from running schedules may have a negative effect on habitual runners.