The purpose of this study was to characterize levels of physical fitness and compare our results with normative standards by Rikli and Jones to determine functional status of institutionalized elders. The effects of different intervention programs on physical fitness were also described.
A total of 148 institutionalized elders completed one-year health-promotion intervention programs: aerobic training (AT), strength training (ST), health education program and control. Habitual physical activity (MTI Actigraph), physical fitness (Senior Fitness Test), health related quality of life (MOS SF-36), and body composition (BMI) were assessed.
Institutionalized elders performance has significantly deteriorated on functional fitness. Nevertheless, higher results than reference values were obtained on both body strength tests and aerobic endurance, specifically in men. Data of one-year intervention demonstrated that ST induced significant changes in body strength and flexibility test and the AT in lower body strength, aerobic endurance and agility/dynamic balance. The final multilevel model shows that AT Program compared with CG, education level, time of institutionalization and HRQoL were predictors for physical fitness score.
These results suggest that participation in regular exercise programs (both aerobic and strength training) elicits a number of favorable responses that contribute to healthy aging and could play a role in prevention or reducing functional decline in elders.