The unexpected benefits of tailored exercise for aged care residents

May 06, 2020

Tailored exercise programs led by accredited exercise physiologists don't just provide physical benefits for residents living in aged care - they improve mental wellbeing and social engagement, according to new Edith Cowan University (ECU) research.

A series of studies led by ECU Associate Professor Annette Raynor from the School of Medical and Health Sciences has investigated the benefits of a 12-week exercise program delivered by an accredited exercise physiologist for older adults living in three different residential aged care facilities in Perth.

According to health authorities, more than 50 per cent of the 230,000 Australian residents living in aged care experience symptoms of depression.

The new studies have provided preliminary evidence for the feasibility and effectiveness of an accredited exercise physiologist-led therapy program to promote residents' physical and psychosocial wellbeing.

Associate Professor Raynor said previous research on exercise in aged care had tended to focus on the physical effects of resistance training and balance programs on fall prevention and in promoting functional capacity and mobility.

"This focus on the physical outcomes from exercise often decreases the significance of psychosocial benefits, such as enhanced independence, elevated mood and reduced agitation that can also be achieved with exercise," Associate Professor Raynor said.

Key findings:More than just physical benefits

While the exercise programs achieved physical improvements in balance, strength and flexibility, other significant benefits such as increased connectedness and motivation were also observed.

Associate Professor Raynor said staff had noticed that residents were coming out of their rooms more often, joining in activities, their mood was enhanced and they were generally more happy.

"One lady we worked with had experienced a stroke. She couldn't dress herself or go to the toilet unassisted. Prior to her stroke she had been very independent and found her current situation frustrating.

"Through the exercise program she regained some independence, was able to join classes, choose her own clothes and go to the bathroom on her own," Associate Professor Raynor said.

"These are the changes we were looking for - an increase in strength and functional ability are great, but the extra benefits that this enhanced physical ability brings to the residents' quality of life demonstrated the meaningfulness of the program."

No one-size-fits all approach

Associate Professor Raynor said exercise interventions in aged care in WA were typically not delivered by exercise physiologists, who are specifically trained to deliver tailored exercise programs.

"Because this exercise program was led by an exercise physiologist, they could prescribe and deliver one-on-one or group sessions tailored specifically to each individual.

"This also meant they could build personal relationships and adapt the exercise to the residents' needs," she said.

The paper It's not just physical: Exercise physiologist-led exercise program promotes functional and psychosocial health outcomes in aged care is published in in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.
-end-
Media contact: Tori Pree, Communications Coordinator, 08 6304 2208, t.pree@ecu.edu.au

Images available for download: https://ecu.box.com/s/dz7fjh75ysugmrt18duzvonqmih98icf

Edith Cowan University

Related Aging Articles from Brightsurf:

Aging-US: 'From Causes of Aging to Death from COVID-19' by Mikhail V. Blagosklonny
Aging-US recently published ''From Causes of Aging to Death from COVID-19'' by Blagosklonny et al. which reported that COVID-19 is not deadly early in life, but mortality increases exponentially with age - which is the strongest predictor of mortality.

Understanding the effect of aging on the genome
EPFL scientists have measured the molecular footprint that aging leaves on various mouse and human tissues.

Muscle aging: Stronger for longer
With life expectancy increasing, age-related diseases are also on the rise, including sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass due to aging.

Aging memories may not be 'worse, 'just 'different'
A study from the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences adds nuance to the idea that an aging memory is a poor one and finds a potential correlation between the way people process the boundaries of events and episodic memory.

A new biomarker for the aging brain
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR) in Japan have identified changes in the aging brain related to blood circulation.

Scientists invented an aging vaccine
A new way to prevent autoimmune diseases associated with aging like atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease was described in the article.

The first roadmap for ovarian aging
Infertility likely stems from age-related decline of the ovaries, but the molecular mechanisms that lead to this decline have been unclear.

Researchers discover new cause of cell aging
New research from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering could be key to our understanding of how the aging process works.

Deep Aging Clocks: The emergence of AI-based biomarkers of aging and longevity
The advent of deep biomarkers of aging, longevity and mortality presents a range of non-obvious applications.

Intelligence can link to health and aging
For over 100 years, scientists have sought to understand what links a person's general intelligence, health and aging.

Read More: Aging News and Aging Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.