Training functional ability in old age

Dawn A. Skelton*, Ann W. McLaughlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


The aims of this study were to determine the feasibility and acceptability of an exercise class run by health care professionals, and whether an eight-week period of moderate intensity exercise could improve the strength, flexibility, balance and selected functional abilities of women aged 74 years and over. Twenty women were matched for age and randomly assigned to either a control or a training group. At the end of the first eight-week period the control group undertook training. Pre- and post-training measurements were obtained from nine women (median age 81 years) and pre- and post-control and post-training results obtained for nine women (median age 81 years). Strength, anthropometry, flexibility, balance and functional ability were measured. Training comprised one supervised session (one hour) and two unsupervised home sessions (supported by an exercise booklet) per week for eight weeks. The training stimulus was one to three sets of four to eight repetitions of each exercise, using elastic tubing, tin cans or sponge balls for resistance. There were training-associated improvements of 9-55% in quadriceps and handgrip strength, flexibility, balance and selected tests of functional ability. We conclude that repeated moderate intensity exercise which involves the practice of functional tasks and mobility can produce substantial increases in strength, balance, flexibility and selected tests of functional ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-167
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 1996


  • activities of daily living
  • aged
  • exercise physiology
  • strength
  • training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Training functional ability in old age'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this