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Elderly Get Physical, Mental Benefits from Exercise

Despite benefits, it is difficult to get older patients to adhere to effective regimen

THURSDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults benefit physically and psychologically from a structured exercise regimen, but adherence is difficult to achieve, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Michael Baker, B.App.Sc., of the University of Sydney in Lidcombe, Australia, and colleagues conducted a study of 14 men and 24 women in their 70s and early 80s living in retirement villages. Subjects were randomized to 10 weeks of supervised exercise or a control group with no exercise regimen.

The exercise group undertook three sessions a week of high-intensity resistance training, twice-weekly moderate intensity aerobic training and a once-weekly session of progressive balance training.

While the control group improved their strength by an average of 21 percent, the exercise group made gains of an average 39 percent. The greatest gains were made when progressive targets were reached. The exercise group exhibited mental health gains, as well; rates of depressive symptoms were lower the more subjects complied with the exercise regimen. However, it was difficult to get subjects to comply with the progressive demands of the program.

"Because of the unwillingness of the study participants to undertake any greater volumes of training, despite agreements to undertake the program initially, prescribing a novel multimodal exercise program seems to be difficult in this population," the authors conclude. "A system to triage individuals to the mode of exercise targeted to their most-urgent requirements may be needed."

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