Semi-structured physical activity intervention in daily life: a good compromise between effectiveness and feasibility
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As older-aged population is continuously increasing, it is essential to promote physical activity (PA) to preserve health and autonomy in daily living. Although several methods have been proposed, combining sustainability and efficacy at the same time is still a challenge.
To evaluate the effects of a semi-structured PA (SSPA) intervention including aerobic as well as strength and flexibility exercise in comparison to generic PA advice (PAAdv) in healthy older adults.
86 sedentary older adults were divided in two groups, SSPA (n = 56) and PAAdv (n = 30). Body weight (BW) and circumferences, blood pressure (BP), submaximal exercise heart rate (HR), as well as Chair Stand Test (CST), Arm Curl Test (ACT), Chair Sit-and-Reach Test (CSRT) and Back Scratch Test (BST) were performed before and after 16 weeks of intervention. SSPA group was further divided in SSPA > 500 and SSPA < 500 according to the total amount of PA performed (cut-off level of 500 MET min/week).
Overall, SSPA groups improved more than the PAAdv group on WC, HC, BP, CST, ACT, CSRT and BST. SSPA > 500 improved more than SSPA < 500 and PAAdv on CST (+ 20.2, + 11.3, + 4.5% respectively), ACT (+ 21.5, + 14.9, − 1.3%, respectively), and CSRT (+ 3.7, + 0.80, + 0.75 cm, respectively), and similarly to SSPA < 500 on BST. Submaximal HR values significantly decreased for the SSPA > 500 and PAAdv groups.
An SSPA program represents an ecological way to enhance fitness in older adults. A greater amount of SSPA (> 500 versus < 500 MET min/week) is associated with higher cardiovascular and muscular fitness benefits.
KeywordsSemi-structured intervention Physical activity Active aging Functional performance
This work was partially funded by: Italian National Center for Disease Control (CCM2013), “La medicina predittiva nella valutazione del rischio di perdita di autonomia”. The authors thank the “Università dell’età libera” of the municipality of Rovereto, “Università della terza età e del tempo disponibile” of the municipality of Trento and dott. Lino Beber for their valuable contributions to the project. We would like to thank subjects for their enthusiastic participation.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and animal rights
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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