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Care home study will see if seated exercising improves health

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Volunteer residents at a care home are taking part in a new study aimed at assessing whether exercising while seated can improve the health and wellbeing of frail older adults.

The study, called Keeping Active in Residential Elderly (KARE), is being conducted by researchers at the University of Birmingham.

“The machines work by scanning the user’s wristband on a touch screen”

Bridgitte Swales

Participants are exercising using specialised chair-based physical activity machines, which are specially adapted and designed resistance training machines for frail older adults.

Birmingham PhD student Paul Doody said: “The great benefit of these machines are that they are specially adapted resistance training machines for older adults and are comfortable, easy to use, and are pneumatic so work on air-based resistance and, therefore, there are no weight plates involved.

“They allow the difficulty to be increased in small amounts of just 100 grams, which is similar to the weight of a small apple,” he said.

PhD student Bridgitte Swales, also from Birmingham and the lead researcher on the study, said: “The machines work by scanning the user’s wristband on a touch screen, and pressing buttons to increase or decrease difficulty.

“They allow us to record exactly how much the physical activity equipment was used during this study,” she noted.

Residents living in Olivet Care Home and Sheltered Apartments in Birmingham, run by Christadelphian Care Homes, have volunteered to participate in the study.

“We hope this new study will show that encouraging exercise, even in an elderly frail population, is a viable solution”

Janet Lord

Those who qualified to take part were aged over 65 and were classed as “frail” due to having three of the following criteria: low levels of handgrip strength, unintentional weight loss, low levels of physical activity, slow walking speed, and self-reported exhaustion.

They will be measured before and after the study to assess their physical, psychological, cognitive, emotional and social health, as well as their immune function.

They were selected at random to either take part in the resistance training group or a control group which will receive their usual regular care throughout the duration of the study.

Over six weeks, those in the resistance training group will complete three to four training sessions per week, with each training session lasting approximately 35 minutes.

There will then be follow-up measurements six weeks after the sessions have taken place to assess if there have been ongoing positive health benefits, and interviews with the participants and care home staff to get their opinions on how they felt about the intervention.

Professor Janet Lord, from Birmingham University’s Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, said: “We hope this new study will show that encouraging exercise, even in an elderly frail population, is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier.”

University of Birmingham

Care home seated exercise study

Study participant 90 year old Doris Foley with PhD student Bridgitte Swales

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