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Balance and gait performance after maximal and submaximal endurance exercise in seniors: is there a higher fall-risk?

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Abstract

Impaired balance and gait performance increase fall-risk in seniors. Acute effects of different exercise bouts on gait and balance were not yet addressed. Therefore, 19 healthy seniors (10 women, 9 men, age: 64.6 ± 3.2 years) were examined on 3 days. After exhaustive treadmill testing, participants randomly completed a 2-km treadmill walking test (76 ± 8 % VO2max) and a resting control condition. Standing balance performance (SBALP) was assessed by single limb-eyes opened (SLEO) and double limb-eyes closed (DLEC) stance. Gait parameters were collected at comfortable walking velocity. A condition × time interaction of center of pressure path length (COPpath) was observed for both balance tasks (p < 0.001). Small (Cohen’s d = 0.42, p = 0.05) and large (d = 1.04, p < 0.001) COPpath increases were found after 2-km and maximal exercise during DLEC. Regarding SLEO, slightly increased COPpath occurred after 2-km walking (d = 0.29, p = 0.65) and large increases after exhaustive exercise (d = 1.24, p < 0.001). No significant differences were found for gait parameters. Alterations of SBALP after exhaustive exercise might lead to higher fall-risk in seniors. Balance changes upon 2-km testing might be of minor relevance. Gait is not affected during single task walking at given velocities.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to appreciate the engagement of the subjects during the study. Additional thank is dedicated to the ProSenectute society (Basel, Switzerland) who supported the acquisition of the included subjects.

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Correspondence to Lars Donath.

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Communicated by Fausto Baldissera.

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Donath, L., Zahner, L., Roth, R. et al. Balance and gait performance after maximal and submaximal endurance exercise in seniors: is there a higher fall-risk?. Eur J Appl Physiol 113, 661–669 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-012-2471-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-012-2471-0

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