New research cited by the Philadelphia Inquirer shows that a standing-exercise program is more effective for seniors than commonly used seated exercises.
Among nearly 300 participants who were an average age of 80, the study showed that those who participated in a standing-exercise program were able to walk farther and faster than those in a seated-exercise program. Lead researcher Jennifer Brach, a professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, remarks, "Older adults who are interested in improving their mobility should consider participating in a group-based exercise program like 'On the Move.' The timing and coordination exercises are designed to be more challenging for participants, but they are important for walking and can improve mobility." According to Brach, the standing program was designed to enhance the motor skills and muscle control needed for walking. It includes a warm-up, stepping patterns, walking patterns, strengthening, and a cool-down period.
The alternate exercise program was done while seated, focusing on flexibility, strength, and endurance. It included a warm-up, along with arm and leg strength exercises, aerobic activities, and a cool-down. Those in the former exhibited a small increase in their speed and distance in walking for six minutes, while those in the latter did not show as much improvement. In total, 142 seniors completed the On the Move program, while 139 completed the seated program. It should be noted that those in the standing-exercise classes were more likely to experience falls, fatigue, and pain, while none of these occurred in the seated-exercise classes. The report was published online in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.