A home-based DVD exercise program for people 65 and older offers clinically significant benefits known to be linked to the maintenance of independent living and the avoidance of disability, a new study currently reports. Using a home video on fitness for senior citizens reaches many more people than any classroom practice session can. The new study tests the efficacy of a home-based DVD exercise program for people 65 and older.
Interestingly, an exercise practice class or course is referred to as an exercise intervention when it comes to seniors rather than a 'workout' as most younger people refer to a fitness class, whether on DVD or in a gym or at a fitness center. The connotation of 'intervention' makes a lot of seniors free-associate the word with 'control,' whereas the connotation of the word 'workout' free-associates the word with fitness exercise for many people.
The denotation of the word 'intervention' means to interrupt or come between. But what and how seniors think of fitness, one conclusion is clear when it comes to a new study, that DVD exercise courses really do give seniors more control over the time they can spend working at their own pace and playing particular fitness movements over and over.
Kinesiology and community health professor Edward McAuley led the new study testing the efficacy of a home-based DVD exercise program for people 65 and older. The paper, “Effects of a DVD-Delivered Exercise Intervention on Physical Function in Older Adults,” is available online. Also see the PDF file, "McAuley_DVD flextoba_2013." The study appears in the Februrary 13, 2013 issue of the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.
Fitness DVDs are a multimillion-dollar business, and those targeting adults over the age of 55 are a major part of the market. With names like “Boomers on the Move,” “Stronger Seniors” and “Ageless Yoga,” the programs promise much, but few have ever been rigorously tested. “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,” said University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Edward McAuley, according to the March 11, 2013 news release, "Older adults benefit from home-based DVD exercise program." McAuley led a new study testing the efficacy of a home-based DVD exercise program for people 65 and older.
The video allows seniors more privacy to exercise at their own pace using a DVD at home
Many seniors enjoy fitness videos at home because it saves energy and time commuting to classes in heavy traffic or having to rest when others are participating in the middle of a class exercise and people may stop and look at you if you're the only one who's stopping suddenly to rest. You have a lot of seniors who are introverts or even isolated who'd rather practice alone in their private area of a house or apartment. And there's the highly extroverted senior who prefers to use exercise as a way of being among people in a classroom.
Many seniors prefer to exercise at their own pace at home and save the socializing for their close friends and relatives. And those with different personalities prefer to play a DVD over and over regardless of whether they're outgoing or introverted. The reason to play a DVD over and over is to practice. You can't practice over and over in a classroom that lasts a limited amount of time, for example a class in Tai Chi that lasts one day or a few weeks.
Would you rather watch a video about healthy aging or a fitness video at home?
The researchers recruited 307 older adults from 83 towns and cities in Central Illinois. Half of the participants used a special fitness video at home. The others, a control group, watched a different 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. In each session of the FlexToBa video, a presenter demonstrated a series of exercises, with age-appropriate models offering alternate approaches for those who found the exercises too challenging or too easy.
“We were very conscious of the fact that we wanted to make something that would reach a broad array of performance levels and physical capabilities,” McAuley said in the news release, "Older adults benefit from home-based DVD exercise program." 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.
The researchers were interested in whether a home-based exercise program could be as effective as classes offered in a central location, McAuley said in the news release. “When we run these trials here (at the university) it’s a lot of time, a lot of effort and can be an inconvenience for participants,” he said. “Physical activity is one of those behaviors that people find very easy to see as inconvenient and they will come up with any excuse not to do it.”
A home-based program could reach many more people than a center-based intervention, and at a much lower cost, he said
At the end of the six months, those who stayed with the FlexToBa program saw “clinically important” improvements in scores on a battery of tests of physical function as compared with the control group. These tests assess strength, balance and gait, and have proven to be useful indicators of future performance, disability and independence in older adults. Unlike those in the control group, FlexToBa participants saw increases in their upper body strength and balance, and were able to maintain their previous level of lower body flexibility.
“This has important implications for an increasingly elderly population who are at risk for subsequent declines in function and increased disability,” McAuley said in the news release. “We now know that this type of program can help to prevent that decline, and possibly reverse it.” The NIH/National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health supported this work.
The research team also included University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign kinesiology and community health professors Robert Motl and Sean Mullen; and graduate students Thomas Wojcicki, Jason Fanning, Siobhan White (now at the National Cancer Institute), Emily Mailey (now at Kansas State University), Amanda Szabo (now at the University of Kansas Medical Center) and Erin Olson.