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Kimberlee A. Gretebeck, Kaitlyn Radius, David R. Black, Randall J. Gretebeck, Rosemary Ziemba and Lawrence T. Glickman

Background:

Regular walking improves overall health and functional ability of older adults, yet most are sedentary. Dog ownership/pet responsibility may increase walking in older adults. Goals of this study were to identify factors that influence older adult walking and compare physical activity, functional ability and psychosocial characteristics by dog ownership status.

Methods:

In this cross-sectional study, older adults (65−95 years of age, n = 1091) completed and returned questionnaires via postal mail. Measures included: Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly, Physical Functioning Questionnaire and Theory of Planned Behavior Questionnaire.

Results:

Dog owner/dog walkers (n = 77) reported significantly (P < .05) more total walking, walking frequency, leisure and total physical activity and higher total functional ability than dog owner/nondog walkers (n = 83) and nondog owners (n = 931). Dog owner/nondog walkers reported lower intention and perceived behavioral control and a less positive attitude than dog owner/dog walkers (P < .05).

Conclusions:

Dog owner/dog walkers were significantly different than the nondog walker groups in nearly every study variable. Many dog owners (48.1%) reported walking their dogs regularly and the dog owner/dog walkers participated in nearly 50% more total walking than the 2 nondog walking groups, suggesting that pet obligation may provide a purposeful activity that motivates some older dog owners to walk.

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Patrick J. O’Connor, Amanda L. Caravalho, Eric C. Freese and Kirk J. Cureton

Compounds found in the skins of grapes, including catechins, quercetin, and resveratrol, have been added to the diet of rodents and improved run time to exhaustion, fitness, and skeletal-muscle mitochondrial function. It is unknown if such effects occur in humans. The purpose of this experiment was to investigate whether 6 wk of daily grape consumption influenced maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), work capacity, mood, perceived health status, inflammation, pain, and arm-function responses to a mild eccentric-exercise-induced arm-muscle injury. Forty recreationally active young adults were randomly assigned to consume a grape or placebo drink for 45 consecutive days. Before and after 42 d of supplementation, assessments were made of treadmill-running VO2max, work capacity (treadmill performance time), mood (Profile of Mood States), and perceived health status (SF-36 Health Survey). The day after posttreatment treadmill tests were completed, 18 high-intensity eccentric actions of the nondominant elbow flexors were performed. Arm-muscle inflammation, pain, and function (isometric strength and range of motion) were measured before and on 2 consecutive days after the eccentric exercise. Mixed-model ANOVA showed no significant effect of grape consumption on any of the outcomes. Six weeks of supplemental grape consumption by recreationally active young adults has no effect on VO2max, work capacity, mood, perceived health status, inflammation, pain, or physical-function responses to a mild injury induced by eccentric exercise.

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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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Matthew P. Ford, Laurie A. Malone, Harrison C. Walker, Ildiko Nyikos, Rama Yelisetty and C. Scott Bickel

Background:

UPDRS and PDQ-39 are reliable and valid assessments of quality of life and physical function in persons with Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, these measures were not designed to track day-to-day or week-to-week changes in community activity in persons with PD.

Methods:

Twelve individuals with PD (stage 1 to 3, Hoehn and Yahr) who were active members of a health and wellness facility were recruited for this study. Investigators collected health history information, asked questions about the amount and frequency of weekly exercise, and assessed motor symptoms and ADL skills using the UPDRS, and provided participants with Step Activity Monitor (SAM). SAM data were collected for a continuous 7-day period.

Results:

Participants averaged 8996 steps/day, had an average of 322 minutes of step activity per day, but were inactive (minIA) 77% of their time per day. On the days that participants visited the health and wellness facility they took an average of 802 more steps with 12 minutes more activity per day.

Conclusions:

A SAM can be used to capture activity levels in persons with PD. These pilot data indicate that persons with mild to moderate PD can achieve step activity levels similar to healthy older adults.

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NiCole R. Keith, Daniel O. Clark, Timothy E. Stump, Douglas K. Miller and Christopher M. Callahan

Background:

An accurate physical fitness survey could be useful in research and clinical care.

Purpose:

To estimate the validity and reliability of a Self-Reported Fitness (SRFit) survey; an instrument that estimates muscular fitness, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, BMI, and body composition (BC) in adults ≥ 40 years of age.

Methods:

201 participants completed the SF-36 Physical Function Subscale, International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), Older Adults’ Desire for Physical Competence Scale (Rejeski), the SRFit survey, and the Rikli and Jones Senior Fitness Test. BC, height and weight were measured. SRFit survey items described BC, BMI, and Senior Fitness Test movements. Correlations between the Senior Fitness Test and the SRFit survey assessed concurrent validity. Cronbach’s Alpha measured internal consistency within each SRFit domain. SRFit domain scores were compared with SF-36, IPAQ, and Rejeski survey scores to assess construct validity. Intraclass correlations evaluated test-retest reliability.

Results:

Correlations between SRFit and the Senior Fitness Test domains ranged from 0.35 to 0.79. Cronbach’s Alpha scores were .75 to .85. Correlations between SRFit and other survey scores were –0.23 to 0.72 and in the expected direction. Intraclass correlation coefficients were 0.79 to 0.93. All P-values were 0.001.

Conclusion:

Initial evaluation supports the SRFit survey’s validity and reliability.

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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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Thomas M. Maden-Wilkinson, Jamie S. McPhee, David A. Jones and Hans Degens

To investigate reasons for the age-related reduction in physical function, we determined the relationships between muscle size, strength, and power with 6-min walk distance (6MWD) and timed up-and-go performance in 49 young (23 ± 3.1 years) and 66 healthy, mobile older adults (72 ± 5 years). While muscle mass, determined by DXA and MRI, did not correlate with performance in the older adults, power per body mass, determined from a countermovement jump, did correlate. The 40% lower jumping power observed in older adults (p < .05) was due to a lower take-off velocity, which explained 34% and 42% of the variance in 6MWD in older women and men, respectively (p < .01). The lower velocity was partly attributable to the higher body mass to maximal force ratio, but most was due to a lower intrinsic muscle speed. While changes in muscle function explain part of the age-related reduction in functional performance, ~60% of the deficit remains to be explained.

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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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Nancy Margaret Salbach, Jo-Anne Howe, Karen Brunton, Kathryn Salisbury and Lorene Bodiam

Background:

The purpose of this article is to describe the development and evaluation of a task-oriented group exercise program, delivered through a municipal recreation program, for community-dwelling people with neurological conditions.

Methods:

Physical therapists (PTs) at a rehabilitation hospital partnered with a municipal recreation provider to develop and evaluate a 12-week exercise program for people with stroke, acquired brain injury, and multiple sclerosis at 2 community centers. Fitness instructors who were trained and supported by PTs taught 1-hour exercise classes twice a week. In a program evaluation of the safety, feasibility and effects of the program, standardized measures of physical function were administered before and after the program.

Results:

Fourteen individuals (mean age: 63 years) participated and attended 92% of exercise classes, on average. Two minor adverse events occurred during 293 attendances. Improvement in mean score on all measures was observed. In people with stroke, a statistically significant improvement in mean Berg Balance Scale (mean ± SD change = 3 ± 2 points, P = .016, n = 7) and 6-minute walk test scores (change = 26 ± 26 m, P = .017, n = 9) was observed.

Conclusions:

This model of exercise delivery provides people with neurological conditions with access to a safe, feasible and potentially beneficial exercise program in the community.

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Fuzhong Li, Peter Harmer, K. John Fisher, Junheng Xu, Kathleen Fitzgerald and Naruepon Vongjaturapat

The primary objective of this study was to provide preliminary evaluation of the feasibility, safety, and efficacy of a newly developed Tai Chi-based exercise program for older adults with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Using a one-group pretest-posttest design, 17 community-dwelling adults (mean age 71.51 years) with mild to moderate idiopathic PD (Stage I, II, or III on the Hoehn and Yahr scale) and stable medication use completed a 5-day, 90-min/day Tai Chi exercise-evaluation program. Outcome measures included face-to-face exit interviews on appropriateness and safety and physical performance (i.e., 50-ft speed walk, up-and-go, functional reach). At the end of this brief intervention, exercise adherence was 100% and the program was shown to be safe. Exit interviews indicated that the program was well received by all participants with respect to program appropriateness, participant satisfaction and enjoyment, and intentions to continue. Furthermore, a significant pretest-to-posttest change was observed at the end of the 5-day program in all three physical-performance measures (p < .05). The results of this pilot evaluation suggest that Tai Chi is an appropriate physical activity for older adults with PD and might also be useful as a therapeutic exercise modality for improving and maintaining physical function. These preliminary findings warrant further investigation.