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Article Title

LESS IS MORE: A PILOT STUDY ASSESSING BENEFITS OF EXERCISE FREQUENCY FOR OLDER ADULTS

Abstract

Catherine D. Patrick1, Chris Larrauri1, Marlee Maloy1, & Melissa Powers1

1University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma

There are countless benefits of exercising for older adults including a maintenance of bone density, muscle mass, and the preservation of muscular strength and endurance. Although older adults benefit from exercising it may be more convenient, more accessible, and less of a burden to exercise less times per week. PURPOSE: The purpose of this pilot study is to quantify if there are any added benefits to exercising three days a week compared to two days a week. METHODS: Participants included community dwelling adults (N=36, M=74.34±7.91 years) who self-selected exercise frequency by joining a multi-component fitness class offered in their local community. Classes were held either two or three days per week depending on the location. The Functional Fitness Test and Short Physical Performance Battery were conducted two times 6 months apart at all locations. Results were analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA. RESULTS: A significant group-by-time interaction was observed for hand-grip strength, p< .05, with the two days per week group improving by 13% and the three days per week group decreasing by 1.9%. Interactions were not significant for chair stands test, arm curl test, 8 Foot Up-and-Go, or Gait speed, p> .05. There was a significant time effect for the chair stand test, gait speed, and hand-grip strength (p<.05) with all tests indicating improvements from the first to second test. CONCLUSION: Although results are preliminary, this study indicates that handgrip strength was enhanced when participants were involved in a multi-component exercise program two days per week (13%). Chair stands test, arm curl test, 8 Foot Up-and-Go, and Gait speed increased regardless of the number of days per week of exercise. Notable limitations to the study are the number of males (N=6) compared to females (N=30) and participant’s self-selection of exercise frequency. Also, we did not track outside influences such as physical activity levels, health status, and history of disease. Future studies should confirm these results using an experimental design in a larger, more diverse sample.

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