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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2019 Jul;29(7):980-991. doi: 10.1111/sms.13415. Epub 2019 Apr 7.

Trunk exercise training improves muscle size, strength, and function in older adults: A randomized controlled trial.

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Discipline of Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
Faculty of Kinesiology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.
Division of Athletic Training, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa.


The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a multimodal exercise program to increase trunk muscle morphology and strength in older individuals, and their associated changes in functional ability. Using a single-blinded parallel-group randomized controlled trial design, 64 older adults (≥60 years) were randomly allocated to a 12-week exercise program comprising walking and balance exercises with or without trunk strengthening/motor control exercises; followed by a 6-week walking-only program (detraining; 32 per group). Trunk muscle morphology (ultrasound imaging), strength (isokinetic dynamometer), and functional ability and balance (6-Minute Walk Test; 30 second Chair Stand Test; Sitting and Rising Test; Berg Balance Scale, Multi-Directional Reach Test; Timed Up and Go; Four Step Square Test) were the primary outcome measures. Sixty-four older adults (mean [SD]; age: 69.8 [7.5] years; 59.4% female) were randomized into two exercise groups. Trunk training relative to walking-balance training increased (mean difference [95% CI]) the size of the rectus abdominis (2.08 [1.29, 2.89] cm2 ), lumbar multifidus (L4/L5:0.39 [0.16, 0.61] cm; L5/S1:0.31 [0.07, 0.55] cm), and the lateral abdominal musculature (0.63 [0.40, 0.85] cm); and increased trunk flexion (29.8 [4.40, 55.31] N), extension (37.71 [15.17, 60.25] N), and lateral flexion (52.30 [36.57, 68.02] N) strength. Trunk training relative to walking-balance training improved 30-second Chair Stand Test (5.90 [3.39, 8.42] repetitions), Sitting and Rising Test (1.23 [0.24, 2.23] points), Forward Reach Test (4.20 [1.89, 6.51] cm), Backward Reach Test (2.42 [0.33, 4.52] cm), and Timed Up and Go Test (-0.76 [-1.40, -0.13] seconds). Detraining led to some declines but all outcomes remained significantly improved when compared to pre-training. These findings support the inclusion of trunk strengthening/motor control exercises as part of a multimodal exercise program for older adults.


ageing; aging; core; detraining; exercise therapy; walking


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