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Aurora de Fátima G.C. Mafra Cabral, Marcelo Medeiros Pinheiro, Charlles H.M. Castro, Marco Túlio De Mello, Sérgio Tufik and Vera Lúcia Szejnfeld

spent to get up an armless chair, walk 3 m, stroll and walk back, and sit back in the chair, all without hand support ( Podsiadlo & Richardson, 1991 ); the handgrip strength test (HST), performed using a dynamometer (Jamar) and using the protocol recommended by the American Society of Hand Therapists

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Jeanne F. Nichols, Lori M. Hitzelberger, Jennifer G. Sherman and Patricia Patterson

This study examined the efficacy of a progressive resistance exercise program, using equal concentric/eccentric (CE) or greater eccentric/concentric (GE) workloads, for increasing strength and improving functional abilities of community-dwelling older adults. Sixty men and women were randomly assigned to one of three groups: CE, GE, or control. All strength testing and training took place on six Lifecircuit machines. Functional tests included a bas carry, weighted stair climb, shelf task 1-RM, and static balance. Significant interactions in strength tests were noted for the chest, back, and shoulder exercises. GE improved in shoulder strength more than CE and control For functional measures, all weight trainers were grouped and compared to controls. A significant interaction occurred for the stair climb and balance with the exercise groups decreasing stair climb time by 11% and increasing balance time by 26%. Relative improvements by weight trainers of 12% for the shelf task and 7% for the bag carry were not significant. These data indicate that a moderate intensity resistance program can have positive effects on tasks required for everyday function.

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Koen A.P.M. Lemmink, Kemper Han, Mathieu H.G. de Greef, Piet Rispens and Martin Stevens

Several items of the Groningen Fitness Test for the Elderly (GFE) were tested. The GFE tests were administered twice, with 1 week between sessions. The participants were 458 independently living adults >55 years of age. For most tests, there was reasonable agreement between sessions, indicating absolute objectivity and stability, but results on the block-transfer test revealed a learning effect. Mean scores on the balance-board and sit-and-reach tests showed significant improvement, whereas grip-strength results deteriorated significantly. All tests satisfied the criteria for relative reliability. In conclusion, absolute and relative reliability of the tests of the GFE were satisfactory. If multiple applications of the GFE are planned for the same group of participants, 1 or more practice trials should be executed for the block-transfer test to avoid a learning effect. A standard warm-up protocol is recommended for the sit-and-reach test. Participants should be strongly encouraged to give a maximum effort on the strength tests.

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Taina Rantanen and Eino Heikkinen

The aim of this study was to examine alterations in maximal isometric strength of multiple muscle groups over 5 years and to compare strength changes between individuals who maintained a high level of physical activity and others who did not. As a part of the Evergreen Project, 20 men and 59 women participated in at least one strength test at the age of 80 and again 5 years later. Men displayed no decrease in lean body mass over the follow-up. and the only significant strength decrease was in elbow flexion strength. In women, both lean body mass and muscle strength decreased significantly (except trunk extension strength). Overall, those men and women who were considered to have maintained a high level of activity retained their strength at a higher level than the more sedentary participants. Older people should be encouraged to continue physically demanding activities to maintain muscle strength at an adequate level for independent living.

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Claire Peel, Carolyn Utsey and Jan MacGregor

This study aimed to evaluate the effects of an 8-week supervised exercise program on physiological measurements during treadmill walking, muscle strength, functional performance, and health status in older adults limited in physical function. Twenty-four participants were randomly assigned to an exercise group (EG, N = 13) or a control group (CG, N = 11), and were evaluated before and after the exercise program (EG) or 8-week period (CG). Evaluations included a progressive treadmill lest, strength testing, the Physical Performance Test (PPT), and the SF-36 Health Survey. The exercise program consisted of 3 sessions per week of brisk walking and strengthening exercises. The EG demonstrated increases in cardiorespiratory fitness and increases in treadmill walking time. The EG also demonstrated increases in force production in 3 of the 6 muscle groups that were tested. Both the EG and CG demonstrated improvements in PPT scores and in 2 health concepts on the SF-36 Health Survey.

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Dennis Dreiskaemper, Bernd Strauss, Norbert Hagemann and Dirk Büsch

Hill and Barton (2005) showed that fighters in tae kwon do, boxing, and wrestling who wore red jerseys during the 2004 Olympic Games won more often than those wearing blue jerseys. Regarding these results, this study investigated the effects of jersey color during a combat situation on fighters’ physical parameters of strength and heart rate. An artificial, experimental combat situation was created in which the color of sport attire was assigned randomly. Fourteen pairs of male athletes matched for weight, height, and age had to fight each other: once in a red jersey and once in a blue. Heart rate (before, during, and after the fight) and strength (before the fight) were tested wearing the blue and the red jerseys. Participants wearing red jerseys had significantly higher heart rates and significantly higher pre-contest values on the strength test. Results showed that participants’ body functions are influenced by wearing red equipment.

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Taina Rantanen, Pertti Era, Markku Kauppinen and Eino Heikkinen

This study analyzes the associations of socioeconomic status (SES), health, and physical activity with maximal isometric strength in 75-year-old men (n = 104) and women (n = 191). Maximal isometric strength was measured with dynamometers; the forces were adjusted using body weight. The maximal forces for women varied from 66% (trunk flexion) to 73% (knee extension) of those of the men. SES was not associated with muscle force. For men the trunk forces and elbow flexion force correlated negatively with the number of chronic diseases, index of musculoskeletal pain, and self-rated health. For women all the strength test results correlated with self-rated health; the other health indicators showed significant correlation with trunk extension force only. For both sexes the physically more active exhibited greater strength. The index of musculoskeletal symptoms explained the variance on trunk force factor in both sexes. It was concluded that a higher level of everyday physical activity and good values in the state-of-health indicators were the most important variables explaining greater strength among the elderly.

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Michael P. Corcoran, Miriam E. Nelson, Jennifer M. Sacheck, Kieran F. Reid, Dylan Kirn, Roger A. Fielding, Kenneth K.H. Chui and Sara C. Folta

This cluster-randomized trial was designed to determine the efficacy of a 6-month exercise-nutritional supplement program (ENP) on physical function and nutritional status for older adults and the feasibility of implementing this program in a senior living setting. Twenty senior-living facilities were randomized to either a 3 day per week group-based ENP led by a trained facility staff member or a health education program (SAP). Participants (N = 121) completed a short physical performance battery, 400-m walk, handgrip strength test, and mini-nutrition assessment. 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], insulin-like growth-factor 1 (IGF-1), and activity level were also measured. The ENP did not significantly improve physical function or nutritional status compared with the SAP. Compared with baseline, participants in the ENP engaged in 39 min less physical activity per week at 6 months. Several facility characteristics hindered implementation of the ENP. This study highlights the complexity of implementing an evidence-based program in a field setting.

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Johanne Desrosiers, François Prince, Annie Rochette and Michel Raîche

The objectives of this study were to standardize measurement procedures and study the test-retest and interrater reliability of the belt-resisted method for measuring the lower extremity isometric strength of three muscle groups. The strength of 33 healthy, elderly, community-dwelling subjects was evaluated with a hand-held dynamometer using the belt-resisted method. Isometric strength testing of three muscle groups (hip flexors, knee extensors, and ankle dorsiflexors) was performed on two separate occasions, I week apart, by the same tester to determine test-retest reliability. The test results of two different examiners testing on different days were used to determine interrater reliability. Test-retest reliability was higher than interrater reliability. Test-retest reliability coefficients of the three muscle groups were high (J9-.95). For interrater reliability, intraclass correlation coefficients varied from .64 to .92. depending on the muscle group and side. For the two kinds of reliability, intraclass correlation coefficients increased from proximal to distal. The method for the hip muscle group should be modified to increase reliability of the measure.

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Jenni Kulmala, Tiia Ngandu, Satu Pajala, Jenni Lehtisalo, Esko Levälahti, Riitta Antikainen, Tiina Laatikainen, Heikki Oksa, Markku Peltonen, Rainer Rauramaa, Hilkka Soininen, Timo Strandberg, Jaakko Tuomilehto and Miia Kivipelto

Background:

Physical activity (PA) has beneficial effects on older age physical functioning, but longitudinal studies with follow-ups extending up to decades are few. We investigated the association between leisure-time PA (LTPA) and occupational PA (OPA) from early to late adulthood in relation to later life performance-based physical functioning.

Methods:

The study involved 1260 people aged 60 to 79 years who took part in assessments of physical functioning (Short Physical Performance Battery [SPPB] test, 10-m maximal walking test, and grip strength test). Participants’ data on earlier life LTPA/OPA (age range 25 to 74 years) were received from the previous studies (average follow-up 13.4 years). Logistic, linear, and censored regression models were used to assess the associations between LTPA/OPA earlier in life and subsequent physical functioning.

Results:

A high level of LTPA earlier in life was associated with a lower risk of having difficulties on the SPPB test (odds ratio [OR]: 0.37; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.24–0.58) and especially on the chair rise test (OR: 0.42; 95% CI, 0.27–0.64) in old age. Heavy manual work predicted difficulties on SPPB (OR: 1.91; 95% CI, 1.22–2.98) and the chair rise test (OR: 1.75; 95% CI, 1.14–2.69) and poorer walking speed (β = .10, P = .005).

Conclusions:

This study highlights the importance of LTPA on later life functioning, but also indicates the inverse effects that may be caused by heavy manual work.