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ABSTRACT: Poor functional fitness of the lower extremities is a potentially modifiable risk factor for falls. This study compared the Aotake stepping exercise, a unique indoor program, to walking and examined improvements in lower-extremity functional fitness.
We non-randomly assigned 36 community-dwelling older adults (age 67.3 +/- 3.7 years) to either an Aotake stepping exercise group (group A, n = 19) or a walking group (group W, n = 17). During the 10-week regimen, the members of each group participated in either a 45-min Aotake or walking exercise session twice a week. Each session for group A consisted mainly of stepping activities on Aotake equipment (L42 x W10 x H3 cm); the equipment was made of plastic and had a bumpy surface to stimulate the soles of the feet.
Attendance rates were 91.1 +/- 5.6% for group A and 89.7 +/- 9.4% for group W. anova revealed improvements in leg strength and power (measured by isometric leg extension and chair stands), motor processing (measured by stepping with both feet and whole-body reaction time) and locomotion (measured by walking around two cones and a 10-m walk); the analysis revealed no group-by-time interactions. There was particular improvement (effect size = 1.18) in the chair stand measure in group A. However, the balance measures remained unchanged.
Aotake stepping exercise may be just as effective as walking for improving lower-extremity functional fitness. The current study, however, was a non-randomized trial with a small sample size; further investigations would be warranted.
Geriatrics & Gerontology International 03/2010; 10(3):244-50.