The effectiveness of a combined exercise intervention on physical fitness factors related to falls in community-dwelling older adults
Jie Zhuang,1,* Liang Huang,1,2,* Yanqiang Wu,3 Yanxin Zhang2
1School of Kinesiology, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai, People's Republic of China; 2Department of Sport and Exercise Science, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand; 3Shanghai Municipal Center for Students' Physical Fitness and Health Surveillance, Shanghai, People's Republic of China
*These authors contributed equally to this work
Abstract: This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative exercise program on muscle strength, balance, and gait kinematics in elderly community-dwellers. The exercise program included strength and balance training and the 8-form Tai Chi Chuan. The measurements were carried out at baseline and 12 weeks, and consisted of four physical performance tests, joint isokinetic strength tests, and three-dimensional gait analysis. Fifty-six community-dwelling older adults aged 60–80 years old were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group. After 12 weeks, the intervention group showed a 17.6% improvement in the timed up and go test, accompanied by a 54.7% increase in the 30-second chair stand test score. Significant increases in the score of star excursion balance tests, and the strength of the extensor and flexor muscles at knee and ankle joints were also observed. In addition, the intervention group walked at a faster speed with a longer step length, shorter support phase, and a greater sagittal plane range of motion at the hip and ankle joints. No statistical improvements were seen in the control group. This study provided an effective, evidence-based falls prevention program that can be implemented in community settings to improve physical fitness and reduce fall risks among community-dwelling older adults. The star excursion balance test could be a sensitive measure of physical performance for fall risk assessment in older people.
Keywords: Tai Chi Chuan, resistance training, balance, fall prevention, fall-related risk factors
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