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

This study evaluates the separate effect and retention of 12-week traditional (TE) and horse (HE) exercise programs on physical function in healthy older participants (61 to 87 years old). Thirty-eight participants were randomly assigned to three groups: TE (n = 17), HE (n = 10), and control group (n = 11). TE and HE underwent a supervised exercise program (3 day/week). Maximal gait speed, muscle strength, and body balance were assessed at weeks 0, 12, and 16. Only TE and HE displayed significant improvements (P < .05) in knee extensor strength, and only HE had faster gait speed. Marginal balance improvements were found only in HE in the medial-lateral direction. However, TE showed larger improvements in handgrip than HE. The largest retention was in knee extensor strength but most of the exercise effects were lost in the follow-up. Besides TE, exercise with a horse may be an alternative option to older adults, provided that they want to interact with the animal.

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Lisa M. Warner, Jochen P. Ziegelmann, Benjamin Schüz, Susanne Wurm and Ralf Schwarzer

The purpose of the current study was to examine whether the effects of social support on physical exercise in older adults depend on individual perceptions of self-efficacy. Three hundred nine older German adults (age 65–85) were assessed at 3 points in time (3 months apart). In hierarchical-regression analyses, support received from friends and exercise self-efficacy were specified as predictors of exercise frequency while baseline exercise, sex, age, and physical functioning were controlled for. Besides main effects of self-efficacy and social support, an interaction between social support and self-efficacy emerged. People with low self-efficacy were less likely to be active in spite of having social support. People with low support were less likely to be active even if they were high in self-efficacy. This points to the importance of both social support and self-efficacy and implies that these resources could be targets of interventions to increase older adults’ exercise.

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L. Jerome Brandon, Lisa W. Boyette, Adreinne Lloyd and Deborah A. Gaasch

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a 24-month moderate-intensity resistive-training intervention on strength and function in older adults. A repeated-measures experimental research design was employed as a sample of 55 apparently healthy, older, community-dwelling volunteers (30 exercisers—25 women and 5 men; 25 comparisons—16 women and 9 men) were evaluated for strength of 5 muscle groups that influence lower extremity movement and physical function. Strength and function were evaluated at 6-month intervals. The findings from this study indicate that a moderate-intensity resistive-training program increases strength in older adults and that the strength benefits are retained for the duration of the intervention. Furthermore, a long-term strength-training program can increase independent-function skills in older adults and might therefore aid in prolonging functional independence.

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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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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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Yongwoo Lee, Wonjae Choi, Kyeongjin Lee, Changho Song and Seungwon Lee

Avatar-based three-dimensional technology is a new approach to improve physical function in older adults. The aim of this study was to use three-dimensional video gaming technology in virtual reality training to improve postural balance and lower extremity strength in a population of community-dwelling older adults. The experimental group participated in the virtual reality training program for 60 min, twice a week, for 6 weeks. Both experimental and control groups were given three times for falls prevention education at the first, third, and fifth weeks. The experimental group showed significant improvements not only in static and dynamic postural balance but also lower extremity strength (p < .05). Furthermore, the experimental group was improved to overall parameters compared with the control group (p < .05). Therefore, three-dimensional video gaming technology might be beneficial for improving postural balance and lower extremity strength in community-dwelling older adults.

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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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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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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).