Walking with its training effects on the fitness and activity patterns of 79-91 year old females

Aust N Z J Med. 1999 Feb;29(1):22-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.1999.tb01584.x.


Background: Information is lacking about the physiological and psychosocial effects of exercise among very old persons.

Aim: To investigate the effect of a twice-weekly, six-month progressive walking programme on 38 healthy women in their ninth decade, for evidence of the benefits of exercise.

Methods: Aerobic fitness, blood pressure, skinfold thickness and habitual activity patterns were studied in a randomised controlled trial. Women were chosen, as this is a group of increasing demographic importance for which studies are lacking.

Results: The training group and control group were not significantly different at baseline. However, after six months of progressive exercise the training group showed lower resting (p < 0.05) and working (p < 0.005) heart rates compared with non-exercising controls. ANCOVA analyses indicated higher scores for the training group compared with the control group for Maximum Current Activity and Normative Impairment Index (both p < 0.001), which are both components of the Habitual Activity Profile. Morale also significantly improved within the training group (p < 0.01).

Conclusions: These data show the trainability of very old women and the positive impact a low frequency, progressive exercise programme can have on cardiorespiratory fitness and daily living activity patterns. Such improvements are likely to be indicative of an enhanced outlook for independence.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Pressure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Morale
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Walking*