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Maria Bellumori, Slobodan Jaric and Christopher A. Knight

Physical quickness is less in older adults with implications for fall prevention, movement initiation, and activities of daily living. The purpose was to compare control of rapid contractions in young and older adults within two diverse muscle groups: powerful elbow extensors (EE) and dexterous index finger abductors (IFA). Most-rapid force pulses to a variety of levels were recorded and peak force and rate of force development (RFD) were analyzed with linear regression. The resulting slope represents the dependent variable of interest, the RFD-scaling factor (RFD-SF). RFD-SF of EE and IFA strongly correlated both overall (r = .87, p < .01) and separately in young (r = .60, p < .05) and older (r = .77, p < .01) adults. RFD-SF values were different between muscle groups (F 1,28 = 19.1, p < .001) and also less in elderly (F 1,28 = 32.6, p < .001). We conclude that RFD-SF provides a sensitive assessment of muscle quickness that can be used to evaluate neuromuscular function in aging humans.

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Marie-Louise Bird and James Fell

This study investigated the effect of Pilates exercise on physical fall risk factors 12 months after an initial 5-week Pilates intervention. The authors hypothesized that ongoing Pilates participation would have a positive effect on physical fall risk factors in those who continued with Pilates exercise compared with those who ceased. Thirty older ambulatory adults (M = 69 years, SD = 7) participated in Pilates classes for 5 weeks with testing preintevention (Time 1 [T1]) and postintervention (Time 2 [T2]) and 12 months later (Time 3 [T3]). Balance and leg strength were compared using a 2-way analysis of variance with repeated measures. Postural sway, dynamic balance, and function improvements evident after the initial Pilates training (T1–T2) were maintained at T3 (p < .01). Significant differences existed at T3 for dynamic balance and strength between participants who continued performing Pilates (n = 14) and those who had ceased. Balance improvements after a short Pilates intervention were maintained 1 year later in all participants, with increased benefits from ongoing participation.

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Romuald Lepers, Paul J. Stapley and Thomas Cattagni

declines in aerobic and anaerobic power occur together with aging, 4 while other works reported a greater impact of aging on anaerobic versus aerobic power. 8 Previous studies examining the age-related decline in triathlon performances (ie, swimming, cycling, and running) attempted to ascertain if the

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Joseph Baker, Janice Deakin, Sean Horton and G. William Pearce

Demographic studies indicate a remarkable aging trend in North America. An accurate profile of the decline in physical and cognitive capabilities over time is essential to our understanding of the aging process. This study examined the maintenance of skilled performance across the careers of 96 professional golfers. Data were collected on scoring average, driving distance, driving accuracy, greens in regulation, putts per round, and number of competitive rounds played using online data archives. Analyses indicate that performance in this activity can be maintained to a greater extent than in activities relying on biologically constrained abilities. Although the generalizability of these results to “normal” aging populations is not known, they suggest that acquired skills can be maintained to a large extent in the face of advancing age.

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Mark L. Watsford, Aron J. Murphy, Matthew J. Pine and Aaron J. Coutts

Older adults’ participation in habitual exercise might be affected by alterations to respiratory mechanics such as decreased respiratory-muscle strength. This reduction can cause a decrease in efficiency of the ventilatory pump, potentially compromising exercise participation. This research examined the role of habitual exercise in respiratory-muscle function and the associated implications for exercise performance. Seventy-two healthy older adults (36 men, 64.9 ± 8.6 years, 177.2 ± 8.4 cm, 82.5 ± 11.9 kg; 36 women, 64.9 ± 9.5 years, 161.7 ± 6.4 cm, 61.6 ± 9.2 kg) undertook respiratory-function and walking-performance tests. Active men and women achieved higher scores than their inactive counterparts for all tests except spirometry, where no differences were evident. The results indicate that a significant amount of the elevated fitness level might be accounted for by increased endurance capacity of the inspiratory muscles. Inactive older individuals might be at risk for inadequate respiratory-muscle strength, so interventions should be considered.

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Peiyuan Wang, Frank J. Infurna and Sydney Y. Schaefer

cognitive screen and in a wider age range. Moreover, the Visuospatial/Executive score of the MoCA remained a significant predictor of learning even when accounting for participant age, suggesting that earlier studies showing age-related declines in motor learning (e.g.,  Harrington & Haaland, 1992 ) may in

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Nathan F. Johnson, Chloe Hutchinson, Kaitlyn Hargett, Kyle Kosik and Phillip Gribble

flexibility and a decreased ability to transition between walking speeds compared with nonfallers. 29 Age-related declines in flexibility may contribute to falls by limiting the ability to physically adapt to internal and external perturbations. Age-related reductions in arm swing and head

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Diane E. Adamo, Neil B. Alexander and Susan H. Brown

Our understanding of age-related declines in upper limb proprioceptive abilities is limited. Furthermore, the extent to which physical activity might ameliorate age-related changes in proprioception is not known. Upper limb proprioceptive acuity was examined in young and older (active and sedentary) right-handed adults using a wrist-position-matching task that varied in terms of processing demands. Older individuals were also classified according to their participation in tasks specific to the upper limb. Errors were greater for older than younger individuals. Older sedentary adults showed greater errors and performed movements less smoothly than older active adults. The nonspecific group showed greater errors and longer movement times than the upper-limb-specific group. In older adults, decreased ability to perceive limb position may be related to a sedentary lifestyle and declines associated with memory and transfer of proprioceptive information. Performing tasks specific to the upper limbs may reduce age-related declines in proprioception.

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Phillip D. Tomporowski

Several approaches have been taken to evaluate the effects of physical and mental training interventions on the mental abilities of older adults. A selective review of theory-based research suggests that older adults’ mental functioning may improve following both forms of training; however, the mechanisms that underlie these changes are not well understood. Several multidisciplinary approaches are evaluated that may help to explain how both exercise and mental training interventions may modify or offset age-related declines in mental abilities.

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Reed Ferber, Denise C. Gravelle and Louis R. Osternig

The effects of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) on joint range of motion (ROM) for older adults are unknown, and few studies have investigated changes in joint ROM associated with age. This study examined PNF stretch techniques' effects on knee-joint ROM in trained (T) and untrained (UT) older adults. Knee-joint ROM was tested in T and UT adults age 45–55 and 65–75 years using 3 PNF stretch techniques: static stretch (SS), contract-relax (CR). and agonist contract-relax (ACR). The 45–55 UT group achieved significantly more ROM than did the 65–75 UT group, suggesting an age-related decline in ROM. The 65–75 T group achieved significantly greater knee-extension ROM than did their UT counterparts, indicating a training-related response to PNF stretch techniques and that lifetime training might counteract age-related declines in joint ROM. The ACR-PNF stretch condition produced 4–6° more ROM than did CR and SS for all groups except the 65–75 UT group, possibly as a result of lack of neuromuscular control or muscle strength.