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Susan Dewhurst, Norah Nelson, Paul K. Dougall and Theodoros M. Bampouras

The effects of long-term participation in Scottish country dance on body composition, functional ability, and balance in healthy older females were examined. Participants were grouped into dancers and physically active nondancers (ages 60–70 and 70–80 for both groups). Physical activity, body composition (body-mass index, skinfold thickness, waist-to-hip ratio), functional ability (6-min walk distance, 6-m walk time, 8-ft up-and-go time, lower body flexibility, shoulder flexibility), and static balance were measured. Younger dancers and physically active nondancers had similar 6-min walk distance, 6-m walk time, and 8-ft up-and-go time results; however, while older dancers performed similarly to younger dancers, older physically active nondancers performed poorer than their younger counterparts (p < .05). Body composition and static balance were the same for all groups. Regular physical activity can maintain body composition and postural stability with advancing age; however, Scottish country dance can delay the effects of aging on locomotion-related functional abilities.

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Kimberlee A. Gretebeck, Kaitlyn Radius, David R. Black, Randall J. Gretebeck, Rosemary Ziemba and Lawrence T. Glickman

Background:

Regular walking improves overall health and functional ability of older adults, yet most are sedentary. Dog ownership/pet responsibility may increase walking in older adults. Goals of this study were to identify factors that influence older adult walking and compare physical activity, functional ability and psychosocial characteristics by dog ownership status.

Methods:

In this cross-sectional study, older adults (65−95 years of age, n = 1091) completed and returned questionnaires via postal mail. Measures included: Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly, Physical Functioning Questionnaire and Theory of Planned Behavior Questionnaire.

Results:

Dog owner/dog walkers (n = 77) reported significantly (P < .05) more total walking, walking frequency, leisure and total physical activity and higher total functional ability than dog owner/nondog walkers (n = 83) and nondog owners (n = 931). Dog owner/nondog walkers reported lower intention and perceived behavioral control and a less positive attitude than dog owner/dog walkers (P < .05).

Conclusions:

Dog owner/dog walkers were significantly different than the nondog walker groups in nearly every study variable. Many dog owners (48.1%) reported walking their dogs regularly and the dog owner/dog walkers participated in nearly 50% more total walking than the 2 nondog walking groups, suggesting that pet obligation may provide a purposeful activity that motivates some older dog owners to walk.

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Charlotte H. Worm, Esther Vad, Lis Puggaard, Henrik Støvring, Jens Lauritsen and Jakob Kragstrup

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a multicomponent exercise program on basic daily functions and muscle strength in community-dwelling frail older people. The randomized, controlled study comprised 46 community-dwelling frail older people (above 74 years of age and not able to leave their home without mobility aids). For 12 weeks the intervention group (n = 22) was transported to 2 class-based exercise sessions each week. Assessment of physical function was obtained using Berg's Balance Scale and a walking test. Self-reported functional ability was assessed through SF-36. Maximal oxygen uptake and maximal voluntary contraction of the shoulders' abductors were measured. The intervention group had a significant improvement in balance, muscle strength, walking function, and self-assessed functional ability compared with the control group. This study demonstrates that multicomponent exercise has a significant effect on basic daily functions and muscle strength in community-dwelling frail older people and might improve their ability to live an independent life.

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C. Jessie Jones, Dana N. Rutledge and Jordan Aquino

The purposes of this study were to determine whether people with and without fibromyalgia (FM) age 50 yr and above showed differences in physical performance and perceived functional ability and to determine whether age, gender, depression, and physical activity level altered the impact of FM status on these factors. Dependent variables included perceived function and 6 performance measures (multidimensional balance, aerobic endurance, overall functional mobility, lower body strength, and gait velocity—normal or fast). Independent (predictor) variables were FM status, age, gender, depression, and physical activity level. Results indicated significant differences between adults with and without FM on all physical-performance measures and perceived function. Linear-regression models showed that the contribution of significant predictors was in expected directions. All regression models were significant, accounting for 16–65% of variance in the dependent variables.

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Marja H. Westhoff, Lysander Stemmerik and Hendriek C. Boshuizen

This study’s purpose was to investigate whether a 10-week low-intensity strength-training program could improve strength of the knee extensors and functional ability. Participants 65 years and older with low knee-extensor muscle strength were randomized into an exercise (n = 11) and a control group (n = 10). Knee-extensor strength and functional ability were measured before and after the program and again 6 months later. Knee-extensor strength (Nm) increased by 54% (13% in the control) by the end of the training program (F = 13.02, p = .01), and most of this improvement was still present 6 months later. The program had a beneficial effect on functional tasks, especially the time taken to rise from a chair in combination with a 3-m walk (F = 3.99, p = .03) and self-reported ability related to lower extremity performance (F = 6.97, p = .02). It seems that this program could contribute to improving functional ability in frail older people.

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Jan M. Schroeder, Karen L. Nau, Wayne H. Osness and Jeffrey A. Potteiger

Measurements of functional ability, balance, strength, flexibility, life satisfaction, and physical activity were compared among three populations of older adults (age 75-85 years). Sixty-nine subjects performed the Physical Performance Test (PPT). timed Up and Go. 1 repetition maximum (IRM) leg press and extensions, and Modified Sit and Reach. The Physical Activity Questionnaire for the Elderly and Satisfaction With Life Scale were also completed. No difference was found among the groups for life satisfaction. Individuals living in a nursing facility had poorer PPT scores, dynamic balance, leg extension strength, leg press strength, flexibility, and physical activity than individuals living in assisted-care facilities and the community. Assisted-care individuals had significantly lower PPT scores and leg strength than community-living individuals. The decline of ADL performance and physical activity may be accounted for by loss of strength, balance, and flexibility, all associated with a loss of independence.

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Mariane Fahlman, Amy Morgan, Nancy McNevin, Robert Topp and Debra Boardley

The purpose of the study was to determine whether resistance training (RT) or a combination of resistance and aerobic training (CT) resulted in the most improvement in measures of functional ability in functionally limited elders. Elderly adults who exhibited some limits in functional ability were randomly assigned to either a CT, RT, or control (C) group. Both RT and CT exercised three times per week for 16 weeks. At Weeks 0 and 17, participants completed six measures of strength and six functional tests. A 3 (group) × 3 (time) ANOVA with repeated measures on the time factor was used to analyze the results. CT and RT scored significantly better than C at Week 17 for biceps curl, elbow extension, chair stand, and time up the stairs. These findings demonstrate that RT and CT are both effective at increasing measures of strength and functional ability in elderly adults who begin exercise with functional limitations.

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Susan Dewhurst, Leslie Peacock and Theodoros M. Bampouras

Physical activity assists older individuals’ functional ability and postural stability. Recently, Scottish country dance (SCD) was reported as being a beneficial form of physical activity for functional ability in older females. This study aims to examine the effect of SCD on postural stability. Scottish country dancers (n = 20) were compared with physically active controls (n = 33) for static postural sway measured on a force platform. The Romberg and Tandem stances were used under ‘eyes open’ and ‘eyes closed’ conditions. Ninety-five percent ellipse area and sway velocity were calculated from the center of pressure displacement. Ninety-five percent ellipse area was the same for both groups in all tests. The control group had greater sway velocity for all tests (P < .01) except Tandem eyes closed. SCD participation resulted in similar postural sway as participation in other physical activities, however nondancers may need a greater amount of regulatory activity to maintain balance.

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Helen T. Douda, Konstantina V. Kosmidou, Ilias Smilios, Konstantinos A. Volaklis and Savvas P. Tokmakidis

This five-year follow-up nonrandomized controlled study evaluated community-based training and detraining on body composition and functional ability in older women. Forty-two volunteers (64.3 ± 5.1 years) were divided into four groups: aerobic training, strength training, combined aerobic and strength, and control. Body composition and physical fitness were measured at baseline, after nine months of training and after three months of detraining every year. After five years of training, body fat decreased, and fat free mass, strength, and chair test performance increased (p < .05) in all training groups. Training-induced favorable adaptations were reversed during detraining but, eventually, training groups presented better values than the control group even after detraining. Thus, nine months of annual training, during a five-year period, induced favorable adaptations on body composition, muscular strength, and functional ability in older women. Three months of detraining, however, changed the favorable adaptations and underlined the need for uninterrupted exercise throughout life.

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Gregory J. Steele, Rod A. Harter and Arthur J. Ting

The purpose of our study was to evaluate the functional outcomes of two methods of surgical treatment of acute closed raptures of the Achilles tendon, specifically, the primary open repair and the percutaneous repair techniques, utilizing (a) isokinetic plantar flexion strength, (b) midcalf girth, (c) ankle joint proprioception, and (d) ankle range of motion values. As a secondary purpose, the frequency of reruptures and postsurgical complications were compared between techniques. Twenty male patients (mean age, 43.8 ± 9.4 years) who sustained complete, closed ruptures of the Achilles tendon participated in this study. Results of paired t tests revealed significant differences between postsurgical and contralateral normal limbs for 6 of 12 variables. Results of the ANOVAs revealed no significant differences between the open repair group and percutaneous repair group for any of the evaluative parameters. The significant deficits in postoperative isokinetic plantar flexion strength and midcalf girth measurements, irrespective of surgical technique, suggest an incompleteness of rehabilitation or, more likely, the physiological inability to regain these characteristics postoperatively.