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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2008 June;61(2):121-38

language: English, Italian

Physiological and psychological effects of physical exercise on a group of elderly nonexercisers

Faina M., Mirri G., Manili U., Cavalazzi E., Morandini C., Besi M., Balì F., Manno R.

Istituto di Medicina e Scienza dello Sport, Unità di Scienza dello Sport, CONI Servizi, Roma, Italia


Aim. Experimental evidence shows that physical activity can counteract the aging-induced decline in physical and psychological performance. The aim of this study was to determine whether physical and mental fitness in a group of sedentary elderly improved after a brief exercise training program consisting of light exercises without the use of special equipment or extra cost to the subjects.
Methods. A total of 32 subjects (5 men, 27 women; mean age 66.19±6.92 years; mean height, 155±7 cm) residing in four communities in Latium and attending a senior center took part in a 10-week exercise program conducted in twice weekly sessions of about one h each. Data were collected from anthropometric, physical and psychological assessment at baseline and at the end of the study.
Results. Final assessment showed improvement in body composition, with a significant reduction in body weight and body-mass index (P<0.01), improved physical functional capacity, with a significant increase in muscle strength (P<0.01), joint flexibility (P<0.01), speed of movement (P<0.01), cardiovascular efficiency (P<0.01), mental status, with a significantly improved sense of self-esteem and mood (P<0.01).
Conclusion. Sedentary adults respond positively to even moderate intensity exercise training. Physical activity can effectively improve a series of health factors regarding functional independence, reduced risk of disease, increased socialization and emotional well-being. An efficacious exercise program can be conducted without the use of special equipment or facilities and without extra cost to program participants.

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