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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
Symposium: Functional Health: Innovations in Research on Physical Activity in Older Adults

Strength Training in Older Adults: An Empowering Intervention


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Purpose: This study evaluated the benefits of adding a psychological empowerment intervention (PEI) to traditional strength training (TST) on social cognitive variables in community-dwelling older adults.

Methods: Thirty-eight participants were randomly assigned to either a PEI or a TST intervention for 6 wk. Before random assignment and following training, participants completed measures of self-efficacy for upper and lower body strength as well as the desire to be able to lift specific amounts of weight. Both treatments involved two sessions per week of center-based training and one session per week of home-based training. The PEI condition also included a group-mediated intervention that was designed to increase self-efficacy for physical strength and the desire for upper and lower body strength.

Results: General linear models on difference scores revealed that the two groups experienced differential gains in the desire for upper body strength (P = 0.023, effect size (ES) = 0.79) and were marginally different in gains for upper body strength self-efficacy (P = 0.065, ES = 0.63). On a four-point scale, the adjusted mean (±SE) differences for the PEI group on the desire for upper body strength was 0.71 (±0.12) as compared to 0.27 (±0.13) for the TST group, whereas the PEI group's improvement in self-efficacy for upper body strength was 25.70 (±3.02) as compared to 17.18 (±3.19) for the TST group.

Conclusions: Empowerment-based exercise programs may be particularly motivating for older adults by creating a more meaningful physical activity experience for them.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine


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