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N Z Med J. 1994 Feb 9;107(971):39-40.

Exercise classes in rest homes: effect on physical function.



To determine if regular exercise classes, planned and supervised by a physiotherapist, improved physical function in a sample of frail institutionalised elderly.


Weekly one hour and twice weekly 10 minute exercise classes were given by a physiotherapist, to a group of 34 residents who consented from randomly selected rest homes. The study took place over a period of one year. At entry, 4, 9 and 12 months the physical function was compared with the matched control group who received regular rest home activities, without physiotherapy input. The study used a sit stand test to measure change in physical function. This was indicated by recording (a) the time taken and (b) the hand assistance required to stand up.


Compared with the control group, the study group showed statistically significant improvement (p < 0.05) in physical function as measured by sit stand time. The sit stand hand assistance test was found to be too insensitive to measure improvement or to differentiate between the two groups. The programme was enjoyable and had no health complications.


Regular exercise classes planned and supervised by a physiotherapist are safe and improve the physical functioning and daily activity levels of the frail, institutionalised elderly. They are a cost effective use of the physiotherapist's limited time.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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