Both land- and water-based exercise (WEX) programs have been shown to improve the fitness levels of older adults. However, the extent to which WEX improves function on land is not well understood.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of a WEX program on sit-to-stand and walking speed activities performed on land in older women.
METHODS: A USA pilot study was conducted and then replicated in Japan. Data were analyzed by the same investigators. The 16-week USA pilot study included women (60-89 yr of age) who self-selected to a training (TR) group (n=44) or control (n=17). The USA training consisted of a 16-wk (45 min.day-1, 3 d·wk-1) supervised WEX program that included 10 min warm-up (water walking), 30 min skill learning and practice of progressions designed to target land-based function using resistance and buoyancy for overload and support, and 5 min warm-down exercise. In Japan, women (50-80 yr of age) volunteered to participate in an ongoing replicated community-based program, self-selecting to attend 1, 2 or 3 d·wk-1. USA Participants performed the sit-to-stand and walking speed tests at baseline and 16 weeks. Japanese participants were assessed at baseline, 40 weeks for sit-to-stand (n=34) and 52 weeks for speed walk (n=28).
RESULTS: In the USA, TR improved (p<.001) sit-to-stand (31%) performance and walking speed (16%) while controls did not change significantly. In Japan, sit-to-stand improved (p<.01) by 22% after 52 weeks of training and walking speed improved (p<. 05) by 9% after 40 weeks of training. No injuries were reported by the USA or Japanese groups.
CONCLUSIONS: These results reveal that this WEX program, whether conducted in the USA and Japan, is a safe and effective training mode that results in improved sit-to-stand performance and walking speeds on land for older women, suggesting that the benefits of WEX do transfer to land-based activities.