Summary: This study showed that combination of strength, balance, agility and jumping training prevented functional decline and bone fragility in home-dwelling elderly women. The finding supports the idea that it is possible to maintain good physical functioning by multi-component exercise program and thus postpone the age-related functional problems.
Introduction: This 1-year randomized, controlled exercise intervention trial assessed the effects of two different training programs and their combination on physical functioning and bone in home-dwelling elderly women.
Methods: One hundred and forty-nine healthy women aged 70-78 years were randomly assigned into: group 1-resistance training (RES), group 2-balance-jumping training (BAL), group 3-combination of resistance and balance-jumping training (COMB), and group 4-controls (CON). Self-rated physical functioning, leg extensor force, dynamic balance, and bone mass and structure were measured.
Results: Self-rated physical functioning improved in the COMB group, but was reduced in the CON group; the mean inter-group difference was 10% (95% CI: 0-22%). Mean increase in the leg extensor force was higher in the RES (14%; 4-25%) and COMB (13%; 3-25%) compared with the CON groups. Dynamic balance improved in the BAL (6%; 1-11%) and in the COMB (8%; 3-12%) groups. There were no inter-group differences in BMC at the proximal femur. In those COMB women who trained at least twice a week, the tibial shaft structure weakened 2% (0-4%) less than those in the CON group.
Conclusions: Strength, balance, agility, and jumping training (especially in combination) prevented functional decline in home-dwelling elderly women. In addition, positive effects seen in the structure of the loaded tibia indicated that exercise may also play a role in preventing bone fragility.