Water-Based Exercise Better for Some Functional Movement
June 12, 2015
For older people, water-based exercises improve some functional movements better than land-based exercises, a new study shows.
"In my opinion, attention should be paid to water-based exercises, especially in tropical countries," said Danilo Bocalini, PhD, from São Judas Tadeu University in São Paulo.
Previous research has shown that exercise reduces hypertension and improves daily functioning in older people, but Dr Bocalini and his colleagues wanted to know whether one type of exercise worked better than another.
He presented the findings here at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 62nd Annual Meeting.
The 350 study participants were assigned to one of five exercise groups — walking, water-based exercises, resistance training, Pilates, or functional exercises — or to the control group, which received no training.
Walking was done in accordance with ACSM guidelines, water-based exercises conformed to recommendations of the Aquatic Exercise Association, and functional exercises consisted of a calisthenics program designed by the researchers.
The women in the exercise groups spent 60 minutes three times a week on their exercise for at least 1 year.
The women in the exercise groups were slightly younger than those in the control group, but the difference was not statistically significant (64 vs 71 years), Dr Bocalini reported.
The researchers assessed the functional capacity, flexibility, and balance of each woman with a variety of tests. In addition, the women rated their quality of life on a World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL) scale.
Assessments of the Study Participants
|Arm curl||Number of complete hand curls through a full range of motion in 30 s|
|Chair stand||Number of times a woman could stand up from a chair in 30 s|
|Time up from the ground||Time to get up from from lying on the ground|
|Timed up and go||Time to rise from a seated position, walk 8 feet, turn, and return to the seated position|
|Timed walk||Time to walk or run 800 m|
|Balance||Time standing on one foot without significant fluctuations, toe clawing, hopping, or hand movements, up to 30 s|
|Flexibility||Distance between extended fingers and the tip of the toe|
At the end of the study period, there were no differences in body composition among the groups, perhaps because all the women consumed enough calories to compensate for what they burned during their exercise regimens.
"Food intake was not controlled," Dr Bocalini explained. "That's important for these parameters."
Functional fitness and quality-of-life scores improved in all the exercise groups, compared with the control group.
Improvements in the arm curl and the chair stand were significantly greater in the resistance-training group than in the other exercise groups. And scores on both tests — 35 arm curls and 46 chair stands — were nearly double those of the control group.
Improvements in the timed walk, the timed up and go, and balance were significantly greater in the water-based exercise group than in the other exercise groups. These women were able to balance for the full 30 seconds, which was about twice as long as the women in the control group, and they completed the timed walk in 8 minutes and the timed up-and-go in 11 seconds, halving the times in the control group.
For women in the water-based group, flexibility improved more than in any other exercise group except the Pilates group.
There were no significant differences between exercise groups in time up from the ground or quality of life.
These findings support the greater use of water-based exercises, said Dr Bocalini. He said he will be recommending these exercises, as well as resistance training, for older women.
These findings align with results from previous studies, said Wojtek Jan Chodzko-Zajko, PhD, from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.
"It once again confirms the now very strong evidence that regular physical activity is associated with a host of life and health-related variables," he said. "It's great that this work is now being done all over the world."
It also shows that not all exercise regimens are equal, he pointed out. "We've known for a long time that if you do a particular kind of exercise, you will see benefits that are consistent with that type of exercise."
Dr Bocalini and Dr Chodzko-Zajko have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 62nd Annual Meeting: Abstract 2839. Presented May 29, 2015.