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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.

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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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Anners Lerdal, Elin Hannevig Celius and Gunn Pedersen

Background:

Participants who completed a 3-month prescribed individualized exercise program in groups were followed-up prospectively. The aims were to describe the characteristics of the participants, their health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and physical fitness at baseline, at completion and at 12-month follow-up, and to identify predictors of HRQoL and physical fitness at completion and at 12-month follow-up.

Methods:

A 1-group follow-up design was used. Data were collected from records of 163 attendees at a municipality-sponsored health center in Norway. HRQoL was measured by self-report using the COOP/WONCA questionnaire. Physical fitness was estimated from the results of a 2-km walk test.

Results:

Of the 163 participants referred to the clinic, 130 (79.8%) were women and 33 were (20.2%) men. Participants who completed were older than those who dropped out. The participants showed clinical improvement in physical fitness and all health-related quality life domains (d > 0.53) at the completion of the program and in physical functioning, mental health, performance of daily activities, overall health, and perceived improved health after 12 months (d > 0.36).

Conclusions:

Participation in group-based prescribed exercise program for 3 months may improve physical fitness and HRQoL significantly in short and long terms.

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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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James Dziura, Stanislav V. Kasl and Loretta Di Pietro

Background:

It is not clear whether physical activity can exert a protective role on diabetes risk in older people that is independent of the changes in body weight that occur with both aging and disuse. The purpose of this analysis was to determine the relation between current physical activity, 3-year change in body weight, and the subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes in an older cohort.

Methods:

We studied prospectively 2,135 older (≥65 years) persons living in New Haven, CT, between 1982 and 1994. Physical activity was self-reported in 1982 and again in 1985; body weight and diabetes were self-reported annually over 12 years. Data were analyzed using multivariable Cox Proportional Hazards modeling with adjustments for age, sex, race, education, body mass index (BMI), smoking, chronic conditions, physical function, and alcohol intake.

Results:

Although an inverse graded relation was observed between level of activity and rate of diabetes, this dose–response relation did not reach statistical significance. However, older people who reported at least some activity at baseline experienced a significantly lower rate of diabetes between 1983 and 1994 compared to those reporting no activity (RR = 0.55; 95%CI = 0.35, 0.87). When 3-year changes in physical activity and body weight between 1982 and 1985 were added to the model, the relation between physical activity and reduced diabetes risk was unchanged (RR = 0.49; 95%CI = 0.24, 0.99).

Conclusions:

Even in advanced age, physical activity exerts an important and independent role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. Continued physician counseling on the health effects of physical activity and referrals to community-based exercise programs should be encouraged among older people.

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Leyre Gravina, Frankie F. Brown, Lee Alexander, James Dick, Gordon Bell, Oliver C. Witard and Stuart D.R. Galloway

Omega-3 fatty acid (n-3 FA) supplementation could promote adaptation to soccer-specific training. We examined the impact of a 4-week period of n-3 FA supplementation during training on adaptations in 1RM knee extensor strength, 20-m sprint speed, vertical jump power, and anaerobic endurance capacity (Yo-Yo test) in competitive soccer players. Twenty six soccer players were randomly assigned to one of two groups: n-3 FA supplementation (n-3 FA; n = 13) or placebo (n = 13). Both groups performed two experimental trial days. Assessments of physical function and respiratory function were conducted pre (PRE) and post (POST) supplementation. Training session intensity, competitive games and nutritional intake were monitored during the 4-week period. No differences were observed in respiratory measurements (FEV1, FVC) between groups. No main effect of treatment was observed for 1RM knee extensor strength, explosive leg power, or 20 m sprint performance, but strength improved as a result of the training period in both groups (p < .05). Yo-Yo test distance improved with training in the n-3 FA group only (p < .01). The mean difference (95% CI) in Yo-Yo test distance completed from PRE to POST was 203 (66–340) m for n-3 FA, and 62 (-94–217) m for placebo, with a moderate effect size (Cohen’s d of 0.52). We conclude that 4 weeks of n-3 FA supplementation does not improve strength, power or speed assessments in competitive soccer players. However, the increase in anaerobic endurance capacity evident only in the n-3 FA treatment group suggests an interaction that requires further study.

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James H. Rimmer

During the last 15 years a growing number of persons with mental retardation (MR) have been relocated from large congregate facilities to residences in the community. With this trend comes the realization that exercise specialists employed in community based fitness centers will have to address the needs of a growing number of adults with MR who are beginning to access these facilities. Since adults with MR present themselves as a unique group in terms of their cognitive and physical function, this paper will address specific exercise guidelines that must be considered when developing cardiovascular fitness programs for this population.

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Carrie S. Baker, Jennifer M. Medina McKeon and Ellen L. Usher

Self-efficacy of balance, a psychological characteristic, may provide information regarding psychological risk factors for lower-extremity injury. Validated instruments to assess self-efficacy of balance do not currently exist. The objective of this study was to determine the face and content validity of the Self-Efficacy of Balance Scale (SEBS) for an adolescent population, as well as content validity, construct and convergent validity of the overall instrument. A series of panelists (n = 11) assessed proposed items for face and content validity for self-efficacy of balance. Construct and convergent validity were assessed with active college individuals (n = 74) and female high school basketball athletes (n = 57). Original items were revised to 21 items. Panelists validated both face and content validity of the SEBS. All items were assessed to have the construct of self-efficacy. Evidence of convergent validity supported the proposed construct of self-efficacy, and was found to be relevant to the physical functioning of a young, active population.

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Guillaume Lamotte, Elizabeth Skender, Miriam R. Rafferty, Fabian J. David, Steve Sadowsky and Daniel M. Corcos

Objective:

This paper reviews the therapeutically beneficial effects of progressive resistance exercise training (PRET) on motor and nonmotor symptoms in Parkinson's disease (PD).

Methods:

First, we perform a systematic review of the literature on the effects of PRET on motor signs of PD, functional outcomes, quality of life, and patient perceived improvement, strength, and cognition in PD. Second, we perform a meta-analysis on the motor section of the UPDRS. Finally, we discuss the results of our review and we identify current knowledge gaps regarding PRET in PD.

Conclusion:

This systematic review synthesizes evidence that PRET can improve strength and motor signs of Parkinsonism in PD and may also be beneficial for physical function in individuals with PD. Further research is needed to explore the effects of PRET on nonmotor symptoms such as depression, cognitive impairment, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, and quality of life in individuals with PD.

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Jennifer J. Heisz and Ana Kovacevic

Age-related changes in the brain can compromise cognitive function. However, in some cases, the brain is able to functionally reorganize to compensate for some of this loss. The present paper reviews the benefits of exercise on executive functions in older adults and discusses a potential mechanism through which exercise may change the way the brain processes information for better cognitive outcomes. Specifically, older adults who are more physically active demonstrate a shift toward local neural processing that is associated with better executive functions. We discuss the use of neural complexity as a sensitive measure of the neural network plasticity that is enhanced through exercise. We conclude by highlighting the future work needed to improve exercise prescriptions that help older adults maintain their cognitive and physical functions for longer into their lifespan.