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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2021 Jan 22

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.21.11947-4


lingua: Inglese

Strength training and gross-motor skill exercise as interventions to improve postural control, dynamic functional balance and strength in older individuals

Roberta FORTE 1 , Massimiliano DITROILO 2, Colin A.G. BOREHAM 2, Giuseppe DE VITO 2, 3

1 Department of Human Movement and Sports Sciences, University of Rome Foro Italico, Rome, Italy; 2 Institute for Sport and Health, University College Dublin, Belfield Dublin 4, Ireland; 3 Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova, Padova, Italy


BACKGROUND: Loss of balance control is commonly experienced by older individuals. Despite the large amount of research on the effects of exercise on balance the optimal exercise regime is yet to be identified. Most studies have concentrated on strength training due to associations between muscle weakness, balance disfunction and fall risk. The effects of gross-motor skill exercise for balance and postural control has been less investigated. The study aimed to compare the effectiveness of strength training (STT) and gross-motor skill exercise (GMT) on static postural control, dynamic functional balance and strength in healthy older individuals.
METHODS: Thirty-eight individuals (65-85 years) participated to GMT or STT for 12 weeks, twice weekly. They were tested pre- and post-training for postural control (Romberg and Tandem positions on a force platform), dynamic functional balance (maximal walking speed in balance-challenging conditions), maximal isometric handgrip strength, maximal knee flexor and extensor strength.
RESULTS: Improvements were observed in static postural balance (tandem position, p<0.05, -1.07mm/s), walking speed (hurdles p<0.01, +0.08m/s; narrow path p<0.05, +0.07m/s; picking up p<0.01, +0.07m/s) knee extensor strength (p<0.001, +10.9Nm); knee flexor strength improved significantly in the SST group only (p<0.001, +13.9Nm). There was no correlation between changes in strength and balance.
CONCLUSIONS: Static postural balance and dynamic functional balance in healthy elderly may be improved through exercise targeting either muscular strength or coordination, agility and mobility. The present study helps fill the gap in research on gross-motor skill exercise and proposes a suitable exercise alternative to strength for managing static and dynamic balance decline.

KEY WORDS: Posturography; Muscle strength; Exercise; Mobility; Performance-based

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