Objective: To evaluate the effects of swimming on upper extremity motor control, and balance in elderly population.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: The biomechanical laboratory in a tertiary hospital.
Participants: The swimming group consisted of 20 swimmers (n_20, 65.4 ± 5.5 years) who received regular swimming exercise for more than 2 years. The control group consisted of 34 healthy active subjects (n_34, 67.4 ± 5.7 years) who have regular exercises other than swimming.
Measurements: The eye hand coordination was evaluated by calculating the mean reaction time required in accurately pointing onto the center of the target sensors that come in three different sizes (1 cm, 1.5 cm, and 2 cm in diameter). The SMART Balance Master device was used to measure posture balance. The maximal stability, center of pressure (COP) velocity, and percentage ankle strategy were obtained under six different balance conditions.
Results: In the testing of upper extremity motor control, the swimming group had significant shorter mean reaction time as compared with the control group in all three target sensor sizes (p < 0.05). In balance testing, the swimming group had significant greater percentage of ankle strategy during eyes closed and fixed support (EC), and sway-referenced vision and support (SVSS) conditions as compared with the control group (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Regular swimming exercise may result in improved eye hand coordination as faster and more accurate repetitive movements. Swimming may also result in improved balance function under few complicated balance conditions.