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Kenneth H. Pitetti, James A. Jackson, Nancy B. Stubbs, Kathryn D. Campbell and Saraswathy S. Battar

Comparative and longitudinal studies were performed to determine the effect of Special Olympic activities on the physical fitness of participants. The comparative study compared cardiovascular fitness, percent body fat, and blood lipid profiles of non-Down, mildly mentally retarded adult Special Olympic participants (SOP) with those of nontraining, nonhandicapped (NTNH) and training nonhandicapped (TNH) adults. The results indicated that SOP displayed lower fitness profiles than TNH. Male SOP demonstrated fitness profiles similar to NTNH while female SOP showed lower cardiovascular fitness levels than both TNH and NTNH. The longitudinal study compared cardiovascular fitness and percent body fat of non-Down, mildly mentally retarded adult SOP before and after 4 to 18 months of Special Olympic activities. This latter study showed no significant change in body weight, percent body fat, or cardiovascular fitness during a time period that averaged over 13 months for each participant. The results indicated that the intensity level of activity for the SOP in this study failed to improve physical fitness.

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Veronique Labelle, Laurent Bosquet, Said Mekary, Thien Tuong Minh Vu, Mark Smilovitch and Louis Bherer

The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of exercise intensity, age, and fitness levels on executive and nonexecutive cognitive tasks during exercise. Participants completed a computerized modified-Stroop task (including denomination, inhibition, and switching conditions) while pedaling on a cycle ergometer at 40%, 60%, and 80% of peak power output (PPO). We showed that a bout of moderate-intensity (60% PPO) to high-intensity (80% PPO) exercise was associated with deleterious performance in the executive component of the computerized modified-Stroop task (i.e., switching condition), especially in lower-fit individuals (p < .01). Age did not have an effect on the relationship between acute cardiovascular exercise and cognition. Acute exercise can momentarily impair executive control equivalently in younger and older adults, but individual’s fitness level moderates this relation.

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François Trudeau, Louis Laurencelle and Roy J. Shephard

The purpose of this study was to examine the possible influence of childhood physical fitness on physical activity level and some of its psychosocial determinants as an adult. Childhood (age 10–12 years) data from the longitudinal Trois-Rivières Growth and Development Study (body mass index, Physical Work Capacity (PWC170)), number of sit-ups/min, left + right hands grip strength) were correlated with adult data (age 35.0 ± 0.3 years) for physical activity (PA) level, attitude toward PA, intention to exercise, perceived barriers to exercise and support of an active lifestyle by significant others. No significant relationships between childhood physical fitness and adulthood PA were found. Although the sample size is relatively small, our data suggest that the preadolescent physical fitness level has no measurable impact on adult habitual PA, attitudes toward PA, intentions to exercise, perceived barriers to exercise or support from the individual’s entourage.

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Claudia Verret, Phillip Gardiner and Louise Béliveau

The purpose of this study was to assess fitness and gross motor performance of children with ADHD, including users and nonusers of methylphenidate medication. Seventy boys took part in the study. Fitness level of children with ADHD using medication or not, including body composition, flexibility, and muscular endurance, was similar to that of a control group. The only difference was observed for body mass index, which was lower in children with ADHD using medication. Aerobic capacity was also similar when measured by a treadmill test. A lower performance was observed when aerobic capacity was estimated using a field shuttle test, however, suggesting that the methodology used is important. Finally, both groups of children with ADHD presented significantly lower scores for locomotion skills.

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Madelijn H. Oudegeest-Sander, Dick H.J. Thijssen, Paul Smits, Arie P.J. van Dijk, Marcel G.M. Olde Rikkert and Maria T.E. Hopman

It is currently unknown whether differences in physical fitness in older, nonexercising individuals affect cardiovascular risk profile and vascular function. To examine this, 40 healthy older individuals (age 69 ± 4 years) who were classified as nonexercising for the past 5-10 years were allocated to a lower physical fitness (LF; VO2max 20.7 ± 2.4 mlO2/min/kg) or higher physical fitness group (HF; VO2max 29.1 ± 2.8 mlO2/min/kg, p < .001). Cardiovascular risk profile was calculated using the Lifetime Risk Score (LRS). Vascular function was examined using the gold standard venous occlusion plethysmography to assess blood flow changes in response to intra-arterial infusion of acetylcholine, sodium nitroprusside, and L-NNMA. Daily life activity level of the HF group was higher compared with the LF group (p = .04). LRS was higher (p < .001) and blood flow ratio response to acetylcholine was lower (p = .04) in the LF group. This study shows that a higher physical fitness level is associated with better cardiovascular health and vascular function in nonexercising older individuals.

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José M. Cancela, M Helena Vila Suárez,, Jamine Vasconcelos, Ana Lima and Carlos Ayán

This study evaluates the impact of Brain Gym (BG) training in active older adults. Eighty-five participants were assigned to four training groups: BG (n = 18), BG plus water-based exercise (n = 18), land-based exercise (n = 30), and land plus water-based exercise (n = 19). The effects of the programs on the attention and memory functions were assessed by means of the symbol digit modality test. The two-min step and the eight-foot up-and-go tests were used to evaluate their impact on fitness level. No program had a significant influence on the participant’s cognitive performance, while different effects on the sample’ fitness levels were observed. These findings suggest that the effects of BG on the cognitive performance and fitness level of active older adults are similar to those obtained after the practice of a traditional exercise program. Whether BG is performed in isolation or combined with other exercise programs seems to have no influence on such effects.

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Aaron P. Crombie, Pei-Yang Liu, Michael J. Ormsbee and Jasminka Z. Ilich

Purpose:

To examine relationships between changes in body weight, body composition, and fitness level in male students of the general population and those in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program during the freshman year of college.

Methods:

Thirty-seven (18.4 ± 0.7 yr) healthy, nonsmoking, first-semesterresident male students were divided into 3 groups: low active (LA), high active (HA), and ROTC. Baseline (beginning of freshman year) and 6-month follow-up measurements included anthropometry, body composition (by DXA), 3-day food records, and physical activity (PA) assessment.

Results:

Weight and body-mass index did not change significantly within or among groups. HA participants compared with LA and ROTC had a significant decrease in body fat (–1.6% ± 2.5% vs. 1.9% ± 1.2% and 0.8% ± 2.2%, respectively). They also had a significant increase in lean mass compared with LA and ROTC (1.8 ± 1.1 kg vs. –0.2 ± 2.0 kg and 0.2 ± 1.7 kg, respectively). All p values were <.05. ROTC and LA participants were similar in all measures of body composition and PA and had significantly lower PA levels than the HA group. No significant relationships were observed between dietary variables and body-composition changes.

Conclusions:

These results suggest that higher PA was the most powerful determinant in achieving favorable body-composition outcomes. In addition, current physical training conducted by ROTC at Florida State University (which seems to be a practice nationwide) might not be sufficient to offset gains in body fat.

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Larry Tucker and Travis Peterson

Background:

This study was conducted to determine if cardiorespiratory fitness at baseline, and changes in fitness, influence risk of weight gain (≥3 kg) over 20 months. Another aim was to ascertain if potential confounding factors, including age, education, strength training, energy intake, and weight, influence risk of weight gain.

Methods:

In a prospective study of 257 women, fitness (VO2max) was assessed using a graded, maximal treadmill test at baseline and follow-up. Energy intake was measured using 7-day, weighed food records. Subjects were divided into quartiles based on fitness. Risk ratios were used to show the risk of weight gain among those who were fit at baseline compared with their counterparts.

Results:

Most women gained weight and 23% gained ≥3 kg. Mean VO2max was 35.7 ± 7.2 mL·kg−1·min−1. Women with low-fitness at baseline had 3.18 times (95% CI: 1.46 to 6.93) greater risk, and moderately fit women had 2.24 times (95% CI: 1.04 to 4.82) greater risk of weight gain than women in the high-fitness quartile. Adjusting for potential confounders had little effect on results.

Conclusions:

High levels of fitness seem to help protect middle-aged women against weight gain, whereas low and moderate fitness increase risk of weight gain over time.

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Myriam Guerra Balic, Eufemia Cuadrado Mateos, Carolina Geronimo Blasco and Bo Fernhall

The purpose was to compare physical fitness of two groups of adults with Down syndrome, one active group of Special Olympians (9 males, 4 females), and one sedentary group (5 males, and 2 females). The active group had trained for an average of 4.9 hr per week for a minimum of 1 year for Special Olympics competitions. Participants underwent laboratory testing, including (a) treadmill test to determine peak oxygen uptake; (b) isometric strength tests of handgrip, lower back, and quadriceps; (c) explosive power; and (d) body composition. Peak oxygen consumption and muscle strength were significantly greater in the active group. Although crossectional, these findings suggest that long term exercise training, at a greater than previously reported weekly training load, may enhance physical fitness in individuals with Down syndrome.