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A Journal on Sports Medicine


Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2016 June;69(2):215-27

language: English

Controlled intensity aerobic activity in water and in the gym: effects on mood and physical efficiency in third age women

Raffaele SCURATI 1, Stefano BENEDINI, 1, 2, Giovanni MICHIELON 1, Pietro L. INVERNIZZI 1, Lucia ZANNINI 1, Giampietro ALBERTI 1

1 Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy; 2 Unit of Endocrinology, San Donato Policlinic, San Donato Milanese, Milan, Italy


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BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to compare the effects on mood and physical efficiency of aerobic activity in water compared to aerobic activity of a corresponding type and intensity performed in a gym, in third age women.
METHODS: Forty-five women (76.0±3.5 years old, 62.3±7.7 kg, 156.0±7.0 cm) were divided into three groups, one control and two experimental groups. The latter carried out an eight week long aerobic activity respectively in water (APA-Aquatic Physical Activity) and in the gym (TPA-Terrestrial Physical Activity) with a workload between 60% and 70% of the maximum heart rate (MRH). Before and after the training period the mood (POMS questionnaire), physical efficiency (Rikli&Jones functional tests in the gym), the pain perceived during execution of the motor tests (VAS scale) were assessed and compared.
RESULTS: The APA group saw a significant reduction in the mood states relating to tension-anxiety, depression-dejection and anger-hostility (P<0.01), and an increase in vigour-activity (P<0.01). The TPA group saw a reduction in tension-anxiety and an increase in vigour-activity (P<0.05). APA also showed functional improvement in the lower limbs and in balance, measured by the 30-Chair Stand tests (30s-CS), 2- min Step Test (2m-ST) and 8-Foot Up-and-Go (8-FuG) (P<0.01). TPA improved in a significant manner in the strength of the upper limbs in 30-s Arm Curl (30s-AC) (P<0.05), and lower limbs, in 2 m-ST (P<0.01). Furthermore, in post-training, APA perceived less pain during the execution of all the motor tests (P<0.05), while TPA perceived less pain only in executing 30s-CS, 2m-ST and 8-FuG (P<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: Aerobic activity in water seems to have had better effects on the mood state and on the physical efficiency than a comparable activity carried out in a gym. The aqua fitness programs are therefore highly recommendable as a sport for elderly women.

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