By: Brenda Neugent
Seniors don’t have to face off against buff muscleheads at the gym in order to stay healthy, according to a new University of Illinois study that shows a DVD workout can be just as effective for older adults.
The study looked at the home-based DVD program FlexToBa, which is designed to improve flexibility and balance while toning muscles. Aimed at older adults, the study found the DVD workout to be an effective tool on the road to better health.
The study included 307 adults 65 and older, half of whom used the DBD program and half of whom watched a different video that offered tips on healthy aging.
The six-session FlexToBa program provides a progressive workout program meant to be completed over the course of six months, offering new challenges as the months progress. Participants kept daily exercise logs and were given support over the telephone.
At the end of the six-month trial, researchers found that those who stayed with the FlexToBa program saw “clinically important” improvements in strength, balance, and gait compared to those in the control group. FlexToBa participants also saw increases in their upper body strength and balance.
“Doing anything is better than doing nothing and doing something is likely to give you confidence to do more. For older adults coupling aerobic activity (brisk walking) with activities that improve flexibility, strength and balance are likely to reap the greatest physical and mental health benefits,” said Edward McAuley, a professor at the University of Illinois who led the study.
The study did not include a diet program because, McAuley said, the goal “was to determine whether we could deliver an exercise program that targeted flexibility, strength, and balance to older adults who typically would not be able to get access to center-based activity programs and to assess such a program’s effects on functional performance.”