Background: Resistance training programs have been found to improve muscle strength, physical function, and depressive symptoms in middle-aged and older adults. These programs have typically been provided in clinical facilities, health clubs, and senior centers, which may be inconvenient and/or cost prohibitive for some older adults. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of an automated telemedicine intervention that provides real-time guidance and monitoring of resistance training in the home.
Methods: A randomized clinical trial in 103 middle-aged or older participants. Participants were assigned to use of a theory-driven interactive voice response system designed to promote resistance training (Telephone-Linked Computer-based Long-term Interactive Fitness Trainer; n = 52) or to an attention control (n = 51) for a period of 12 months. Measurements of muscle strength, balance, walk distance, and mood were obtained at baseline, 3, 6, and 12 months.
Results: We observed increased strength, improved balance, and fewer depressive symptoms in the intervention group than in the control group. Using generalized estimating equations modeling, group differences were statistically significant for knee flexion strength (p = .035), single-leg stance time (p = .029), and Beck Depression Inventory (p = .030).
Conclusions: This computer-based telecommunications exercise intervention led to improvements in participants' strength, balance, and depressive symptoms. Because of their low cost and easy accessibility, computer-based interventions may be a cost-effective way of promoting exercise in the home.