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Yen-Jong Chen, Rodney H. Matsuoka and Kun-Cheng Tsai

Mobility barriers can impede physical activity, increase the fear of falling, and pose a threat to the ability of older adults to live independently. This study investigated outdoor mobility barriers within a nonretirement public housing community located in Tainan, Taiwan. Site observations and interviews with older adult residents determined that parked motor scooters, potted plants, the rubber tiles of play areas, and a set of steps were the most important barriers. In addition, the space syntax parameters of control value and mean depth were effectively able to quantitatively measure improvements in walkability resulting from the hypothesized removal of these four barriers. These measures of improved walkability can be included in a cost-benefit analysis of spatial improvement factors to help policymakers address the mobility and accessibility needs of older adults.

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Natalie Frost, Michael Weinborn, Gilles E. Gignac, Shaun Markovic, Stephanie R. Rainey-Smith, Hamid R. Sohrabi, Ralph N. Martins, Jeremiah J. Peiffer and Belinda M. Brown

Objectives: To examine the associations between physical activity duration and intensity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and executive function in older adults. Methods: Data from 99 cognitively normal adults (age = 69.10 ± 5.1 years; n = 54 females) were used in the current study. Physical activity (intensity and duration) was measured with the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and fitness was measured by analysis of maximal aerobic capacity, VO2peak. Executive function was measured comprehensively, including measures of Shifting, Updating, Inhibition, Generativity, and Nonverbal Reasoning. Results: Higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with better performance on Generativity (B = .55; 95% confidence interval [.15, .97]). No significant associations were found between self-reported physical activity intensity/duration and executive functions. Discussion: To our knowledge, this study is the first to identify an association between fitness and Generativity. Associations between physical activity duration and intensity and executive function requires further study, using objective physical activity measures and longitudinal observations.

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Kathleen Benjamin, Nancy C. Edwards and Virendra K. Bharti

For seniors, an inactive lifestyle can result in declines in mental and physical functioning, loss of independence, and poorer quality of life. This cross-sectional descriptive study examined theory-of-planned-behavior, health-status, and sociodemographic predictors on exercise intention and behavior among 109 older and physically frail adults. Significant predictors of being a high versus a low active were a strong intention to continue exercising, positive indirect attitudes about exercise, and having been advised by a doctor to exercise. Findings indicate that a strong intention to continue exercising differentiates between those who report low levels and those who report high levels of physical activity. The results also highlight the salience of physician’s advice for seniors to exercise.

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John R. Biggan, Forest Melton, Michael A. Horvat, Mark Ricard, David Keller and Christopher T. Ray

The understanding of prefrail and nonfrail older adults’ postural control with and without increased environmental and cognitive stress is imperative to the development of targeted interventions to decrease fall risk within these populations. Thirty-eight individuals participated in this study. Postural control testing included the Sensory Organization Test (SOT) on a NeuroCom EquiTest. Cognitive and environmental load testing was performed during Condition 6 of the SOT. Though there were no group differences on composite equilibrium score (p = .06), the cognitive task (Stroop task) impaired equilibrium scores more than the auditory or visual distracter tasks (p < .05 and p < .01) for both groups. These results suggest that both prefrail and nonfrail older adults’ postural control is reduced in demanding environments. Given these findings, the need for multimodal exercise interventions to target both physical and cognitive factors is apparent.

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Alessandra de Carvalho Bastone, Eduardo Ferriolli, Claudine Patricia Teixeira, João Marcos Domingues Dias and Rosângela Corrêa Dias

Background:

Self-reported measures of decreased aerobic fitness and low physical activity are criteria of frailty. However, research assessing aerobic fitness and physical activity levels associated with frailty is limited. Therefore, the aims of this study were to objectively assess the aerobic fitness and the physical activity level of frail and nonfrail elderly, and to examine the association between frailty, aerobic fitness and habitual physical activity.

Methods:

This study included 26 elderly (66 to 86 years), randomly selected. The groups (frail/nonfrail) were age and sex paired. Peak oxygen consumption, maximal walking distance and speed were assessed during the incremental shuttle walk test (ISWT). Average daily time spent in sedentary, light, moderate and hard activity, counts, number of steps and energy expenditure were measured by accelerometry.

Results:

All variables measured by the ISWT and accelerometer differed significantly between the groups (P < .02). All aerobic fitness and physical activity variables were significantly associated with frailty, independent of the number of chronic health conditions (P < .05).

Conclusions:

Frailty is associated with low peak oxygen consumption and low physical activity level. These findings could guide future clinical trials designed to evaluate the efficacy of aerobic exercises in the prevention and treatment of frailty.

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P. Margaret Grant, Philippa M. Dall, Sarah L. Mitchell and Malcolm H. Granat

The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the accuracy of the activPAL physical activity monitor in measuring step number and cadence in older adults. Two pedometers (New-Lifestyles Digi-Walker SW-200 and New-Lifestyles NL-2000) used in clinical practice to count steps were simultaneously evaluated. Observation was the criterion measure. Twenty-one participants (65-87 yr old) recruited from community-based exercise classes walked on a treadmill at 5 speeds (0.67, 0.90, 1.12, 1.33, and 1.56 m/s) and outdoors at 3 self-selected speeds (slow, normal, and fast). The absolute percentage error of the activPAL was <1% for all treadmill and outdoor conditions for measuring steps and cadence. With the exception of the slowest treadmill speed, the NL-2000 error was <2%. The SW-200 was the least accurate device, particularly at slower walking speeds. The activPAL monitor accurately recorded step number and cadence. Combined with its ability to identify primary postures, the activPAL might be a useful and versatile device for measuring activity in older adults.

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Michelle Gray, Sally Paulson and Melissa Powers

The aim of this investigation was to determine the relationship between usual and maximal walking velocities with measures of functional fitness (FF). Fifty-seven older adults (78.2 ± 6.6 years) were recruited from a local retirement community. All participants completed the following assessments: 10-m usual and maximal walk, Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), 6-min walk (6MW), 8-foot up-and-go (UPGO), and 30-s chair stand. Based on their SPPB performance, low (≤ 9) and high (≥ 10) FF groups were formed. Among all participants, maximal walking velocity, not usual walking velocity, was significantly correlated with SPPB (r = .35; p < .05 and r = .19; p > .05, respectively). In the high functioning group, both maximal and usual walking velocities were correlated, but correlation coefficients were stronger for all variables for maximal walking velocity. These results suggest different walking conditions may be necessary to use for high and low functioning older adults; specifically, maximal walking velocity may be a preferred measure among high functioning older adults.

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M. Papiol, M. Serra-Prat, J. Vico, N. Jerez, N. Salvador, M. Garcia, M. Camps, X. Alpiste and J. López

Objective:

To determine the prevalence of five physical frailty phenotype components and to assess the relationship between them and other clinical factors.

Method:

A population-based cross-sectional study was performed. Subjects 75 years and older were randomly selected from primary care databases (with sampling stratified by gender). Physical frailty phenotypes were assessed using Fried’s criteria. Sociodemographic data, comorbidities, nutritional status, and functional capacity were assessed.

Results:

126 subjects were recruited (47% women). Prevalence rates were poor muscle strength: 50%; low physical activity: 29%; slow gait: 28%; exhaustion: 27%; and weight loss: 5%. Prefrailty and frailty prevalence rates were 35.7% and 29.4%, respectively. Poor muscle strength and low physical activity showed a close relationship and concordance (kappa = 0.92). Most frailty components were associated with outdoor activity, hours walked daily, and certain comorbidities.

Conclusions:

Poor muscle strength was the most prevalent frailty component and was closely associated with physical activity, suggesting that training programs may revert or prevent the frailty process.

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Christie L. Ward, Rudy J. Valentine and Ellen M. Evans

Adiposity, lean mass, and physical activity (PA) are known to influence physical function in older adults, although the independent influences are not completely characterized. Older adults (N = 156, M age = 68.9 ± 6.7 yr, 85 men) were assessed for body composition via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, PA by accelerometer, and physical function via timed up-and-go (UP&GO), 30-s chair stand, 6-min walk (6-min WALK), and Star-Excursion Balance Test. In the absence of percentage-body-fat by PA interactions (p > .05), main effects existed such that a higher percentage body fat was associated with poorer performance in UP&GO, 30-s chair stand, and 6-min WALK (p < .05). No significant main effects were found for PA and functional performance. Adiposity explains 4.6–11.4% in physical functional variance (p < .05). Preventing increases in adiposity with age may help older adults maintain functional independence.

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Sandra C. Webber, Sheila M. Magill, Jenessa L. Schafer and Kaylie C.S. Wilson

The purpose was to compare step count accuracy of an accelerometer (ActiGraph GT3X+), a mechanical pedometer (Yamax SW200), and a piezoelectric pedometer (SC-StepMX). Older adults (n = 13 with walking aids, n = 22 without; M = 81.5 years old, SD = 5.0) walked 100 m wearing the devices. Device-detected steps were compared with manually counted steps. We found no significant differences among monitors for those who walked without aids (p = .063). However, individuals who used walking aids exhibited slower gait speeds (M = 0.83 m/s, SD = 0.2) than non–walking aid users (M = 1.21 m/s, SD = 0.2, p < .001), and for them the SC-StepMX demonstrated a significantly lower percentage of error (Mdn = 1.0, interquartile range [IQR] = 0.5−2.0) than the other devices (Yamax SW200, Mdn = 68.9, IQR = 35.9−89.3; left GT3X+, Mdn = 52.0, IQR = 37.1−58.9; right GT3X+, Mdn = 51.0, IQR = 32.3−66.5; p < .05). These results support using a piezoelectric pedometer for measuring steps in older adults who use walking aids and who walk slowly.