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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998 Dec;79(12):1489-95.

Moderate exercise improves gait stability in disabled elders.

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  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions and the Massachusetts General Hospital Biomotion Laboratory, Boston 02114-4719, USA.



Decreased muscle strength impedes elders' functional performance in daily activities such as gait. The mechanisms whereby increased strength improves gait are unknown.


A prospective, blinded, randomized trial of moderate intensity strength exercise was conducted and its impact was measured on functional mobility during gait in 132 functionally limited elders. Lower extremity strength was measured, including hip abductor, hip extensor, and knee extensor strength. Of the 132 subjects, 120 subjects (mean age, 75.1 yrs) completed 6 months of elastic band resistance training at least 3 times a week or served as no-exercise controls.


Subjects increased their lower extremity strength in the exercise and control groups, by 17.6% and 7.3% (p < .01), respectively. Gait stability improved significantly more in the exercise group than in the control group (p < .05). Increases in forward gait velocity were not significantly different between groups. Peak mediolateral velocity and base of support improved in the exercise group, but not in the control group. Change in lower extremity strength correlated significantly but weakly with many of the gait variables.


Gait stability, especially mediolateral steadiness, improved in the exercise group but not in the control group. These results show that even moderate strength gains benefit gait performance in elders and thus provide a sound basis for encouraging low-intensity strength training for elders with functional limitations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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