Effects of home-based tele-exercise on sarcopenia among community-dwelling elderly adults: Body composition and functional fitness

Exp Gerontol. 2017 Jan;87(Pt A):33-39. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2016.11.002. Epub 2016 Nov 9.


Objectives: This study aims to develop a form of tele-exercise that would enable real-time interactions between exercise instructors and community-dwelling elderly people and to investigate its effects on improvement of sarcopenia-related factors of body composition and functional fitness among the elderly.

Design: Randomized, controlled trial, with a 12-week intervention period.

Setting: Community-dwelling senior citizens in Gangseo-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Participants: The participants were 23 elderly individuals (tele-exercise group: 11, control group: 12), aged 69 to 93years.

Intervention: The tele-exercise program was developed utilizing a 15-in. all-in-one PC and video conferencing software (Skype™), with broadband Internet connectivity. The tele-exercise group performed supervised resistance exercise at home for 20-40min a day three times per week for 12weeks. The remote instructor provided one-on-one instruction to each participant during the intervention. The control group maintained their lifestyles without any special intervention.

Measurements: The sarcopenia-related factors of body composition and functional fitness were examined prior to, as well as following, a 12-week intervention period. The data were analyzed with a two-way repeated measures ANOVA.

Results: There were significant improvements in lower limb muscle mass (p=0.017), appendicular lean soft tissue (p=0.032), total muscle mass (p=0.033), and chair sit-and-reach length (p=0.019) for the tele-exercise group compared to the control group. No group×time interaction effects were detected for the 2-min step, chair stand, and time effects (p<0.05).

Conclusion: Video conferencing-based supervised resistance exercise had positive effects on sarcopenia-related factors such as total-body skeletal muscle mass, appendicular lean soft tissue, lower limb muscle mass, and the chair sit-and-reach scores among community-dwelling elderly adults. These results imply that tele-exercise can be a new and effective intervention method for increasing skeletal muscle mass and the physical functioning of the lower limbs from the perspective of sarcopenia improvement among the elderly.

Keywords: Elderly exercise; Functional fitness; Resistance exercise; Sarcopenia; Skeletal muscle mass; Supervised exercise; Tele-exercise; Tele-physiotherapy; Telegeriatrics.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Composition*
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Organ Size
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Republic of Korea
  • Sarcopenia / rehabilitation*
  • Software
  • Telerehabilitation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Videoconferencing