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Article Title

STRUCTURED EXERCISE CLASSES AND NON-STRUCTURED EXERCISE INCREASE FUNCTIONALITY IN OLDER ADULTS

Abstract

Advancing age is typically associated with decreases in aerobic capacity and strength and loss of muscle mass and bone density. Evidence-based community exercise programs that emphasize strength, flexibility, and balance have been shown to improve functionality and increase independence. Pre-and-post assessment is critical to measuring program success and individual improvement. PURPOSE: To provide a summary of how five different community-based collaborative teams (e.g., professors, undergraduate and graduate students, fitness professionals, and nonprofits) were formed and used standardized tests to measure changes in functional fitness scores among adults. METHODS: Adults ranged in age from 39-90+ years. The following six tests for strength, aerobic fitness, flexibility, and dynamic balance were administered: CHAIR stand, ARM curls, 2-min STEP, sit-and-REACH, BACK scratch, and 8-FOOT up-and-go. Paired t-tests were used to analyze pre-and-post scores. Test sessions were arranged with the 5-6 collaborators and conducted in fall/spring: (1) Fall 2008, (2) Fall 2010, (3) Fall 2014, (4) Spring 2015, and (5) Spring 2016. At the completion of the pre-tests, collaborators provided individual feedback and exercise recommendations to the adults and encouraged enrollment in a fitness class. RESULTS: Significant pre-and post-results, Mean (SD), were found for the following tests: Fall 2008 CHAIR M = 14.29 (2.27), M = 21.21 (5.19), p < 0.001; ARM: M = 16.79 (2.36), M = 21.57 (3.80), p < 0.005; EIGHT-FOOT: M = 5.44 (1.33), M = 4.81 (1.05), p <0.01; Fall 2010 CHAIR: M = 18.14 (2.67), M = 22.00 (2.52), p <0.005; ARM: M = 24.86 (3.49), M = 27.86 (3.63), p < 0.01; STEP: M = 144 (9.60), M = 131 (7.63), p < 0.005; Fall 2014 to Spring 2015 CHAIR: M = 14.73 (3.26), M = 18.07 (3.10), p < 0.001; ARM: M = 16.20 (2.65), M = 20.73 (3.31), p < 0.0001; STEP: M = 90 (15.15), M = 108 (18.63), p < 0.001; REACH: M = 1.55 (2.58), M = 3.57 (3.52), p < 0.05; Spring 2016 ARM: M = 17.32 (4.66), M = 196.04 (5.47), p < 0.05; EIGHT-FOOT: M = 5.67 (1.40), M = 5.16 (1.03), p < 0.05. CONCLUSIONS: Significant results indicating improved functionality were found for at least two functional fitness tests for each pre-and post-testing session. Greater improvements were reported with longer time periods between pre-to-post assessment (e.g., 32-weeks from Fall 2014 to Spring 2015) and for 2 sets of test results administered only to adults enrolled in two evidence-based prevention and intervention programs in Fall 2008 (5-week program) and Fall 2010 (7-week program).

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