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Ulster Med J. 1995 Oct;64(2):118-25.

The effect of minimal exercise on fitness in elderly women after hip surgery.

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  • 1Department of Health Care for the Elderly, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.


To determine the effect of minimal exercise on functional fitness following total hip replacement in elderly women, 20 women (13 exercisers, 7 controls) who had undergone unilateral or bilateral hip replacement surgery for primary osteoarthritis were studied. An exercise treadmill test with respiratory gas and blood lactate analyses, and a field test of walking speed on a measured course, were administered before and after a twice weekly exercise programme of three months' duration. Markers of cardiorespiratory fitness, including peak achieved oxygen uptake (VO2) and ventilatory and lactate thresholds were measured. Maximum self-selected walking speed was also measured over a flat course. Peak VO2 increased in the exercise group when compared to baseline (P < 0.05) but did not differ from the control group. The exercise group significantly improved their walking speed by 10.1% compared with non-exercising controls (1.41 vs 1.20 m/sec, P < 0.05), and increased VO2 at lactate threshold. The improvements occurred despite the twice weekly exercise sessions being below the recommended frequency of exercise for improving cardiorespiratory fitness. Minimal exercise in elderly women after hip surgery can substantially improve submaximal exercise capacity, as well as walking speed.

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