The effect of activity history and current activity on static and dynamic postural balance in older adults

Physiol Behav. 2000 Aug-Sep;70(3-4):319-25. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(00)00272-9.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of former athleticism and current activity status on static and dynamic postural balance in older adults. Fifty-six subjects participated in four study groups including former athletes, currently active (AA; n = 15; 69.1+/-4.4 years.; 77.8+/-9.8 kg), former athletes, currently inactive (AI; n = 12; 66.7 years.; 87.2+/-15.1 kg), controls currently active (CA; n = 14; 68.6 +/- 4.5 years.; 73.9+/-15 kg), and controls currently inactive (CI; n = 15; 72.8+/-4.8 years; 81.1+/-14.8). All subjects were tested for height, weight, flexibility, thigh circumference, and static (sharpened Romberg/unipedal stance), and dynamic (step length and width) balance tests. The sharpened Romberg (eyes open) test showed that AA (60.0+/-0 s) and CA (59.4+/- 0.5 s) balanced significantly longer than AI (41.5+/-7.2 s), and CI (41.8+/-6.1 s) (p<0.05). The unipedal (eyes open) test balance scores for AA, CA, AI, and CI were respectively 40.0+/-4.5, 55.1+/- 3.4, 33.0+/-7.1, and 27.5+/-6.1 s, with CA significantly better than CI (p<0.05). In dynamic balance AA and CA (746.1+/-28.0 and 724.6+/-24.3 mm) showed significantly longer step lengths (p<0.05) than CI (643.7+/-26.5 mm). The eyes closed test results for relative group comparisons were similar. Overall, two-way analysis of variance showed a significant activity main effect for all dependent variables measured (p<0.05). The results indicated that current activity status plays a key role on balance performance in older adults. Furthermore, former athletic activity history provides no protection for the age related onset of postural imbalance.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Somatotypes / physiology
  • Sports / physiology*