At-home fitness programs benefit older adults, study says

Maintaining a regular exercise routine can be challenging for older adults — especially those with physical limitations due to injury or chronic illness.

But home-based DVD exercise programs may be the answer to this problem, a new study found.

New video focuses on health interventions

Researchers from the University of Illinois studied the health and fitness habits of 307 older adults from different cities and towns in the area. Half of the participants used a home-based fitness video, and the other half watched a video about healthy aging.

The fitness video, called FlexToBa, was created to help seniors improve toning, flexibility and balance, which are three areas that are often associated with the feasibility of independent living as adults age. The video aims to help viewers progress to exercise three times a week over six months. Fitness challenges help seniors improve their skills while beginner modifications are offered for those that need them.

Are DVDs as effective as other programs?

The main goal of the study was to determine whether or not home-based programs are as effective as community-based fitness classes.

The authors note that the time and effort required to work out can be a major deterrent for older people.

"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," said Edward McAuley, University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor.

Results

But the results of the study were encouraging, as the participants who stuck with the FlexToBa program showed "clinically important" improvements when it came to tests of physical function. And unlike the control group, the fitness group showed increase in upper body strength and balance.

"This has important implications for an increasingly elderly population who are at risk for subsequent declines in function and increased disability," McAuley said. "We now know that this type of program can help to prevent that decline, and possibly reverse it."

The study appears in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.

Source: Medical News Net

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