Changing physical activity in senior’s remains difficult with exercise DVD’s being aimed at seniors such as “Boomers on the Move” and “Ageless Yoga”.
Dr. Edward McAuley, PhD, professor Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and leader of this new study commented "There are tons of DVDs out there, 20 percent of them are purchased by older adults, and with few exceptions there is no evidence that they work.”
In this new clinical trial researchers the efficacy of of a novel, 6-month, home-based, DVD-delivered exercise program focusing on flexibility, balance, and toning on the physical function of older adults, according to the abstract.
Researchers recruited 307 older adults from 83 towns and cities throughout central Illinois. The trial consisted of 4 waves of recruitment and randomization from May 2010 through January 2012. Inclusion criteria included being inactive, at least 65 years of age, English speaking, providing physician’s consent, and willingness to be randomized.
For the study participants were divided at random to one of two treatments; using a special treatment video at home or watching a video about healthy aging.
The fitness video was an outgrowth of years of research on interventions to enhance the health of older adults. The program, called "FlexToBa" (flex-toe-bah), was designed to improve flexibility, toning and balance, three components of function associated with the maintenance of independent living and avoidance of disability in older adults.
The FlexToBa video included several hours of instruction presented over six sessions meant to encourage progressive exercise three times a week over six months. New challenges each month helped keep participants engaged and encouraged them to build on their achievements.
Participants were asked to complete daily exercise logs and received short support telephone calls with exercise tips every other week for the first two months, and then every month. The control group also received the telephone calls.
At the end of the six months those participants who remained with the FlexToBa program had shown clinical improvements in Short Physical Performance Battery (objective assessment tool for evaluating lower extremity functioning in older persons), lower extremity flexibility and upper body strength.
In their conclusion the researchers write “The exercise intervention produced a clinically significant improvement in the Short Physical Performance Battery and improvements in flexibility and strength, demonstrating the effectiveness of a low-cost DVD exercise program in improving physical function in older adults.”
Dr. McAuley stated "This has important implications for an increasingly elderly population who are at risk for subsequent declines in function and increased disability.” "We now know that this type of program can help to prevent that decline, and possibly reverse it."
The National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health supported this work.
This study is published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.