A group of care home residents are taking part in a University of Birmingham study, Keeping Active in Residential Elderly, to see whether exercising while seated can improve the health and wellbeing of frail older adults.
The Keeping Active in Residential Elderly (KARE) study is being conducted by the Physical Activity and Nutritional INfluences In Ageing (PANINI) project research group at the University of Birmingham.
Participants are exercising using specialised chair-based physical activity and resistance training machines, which are adapted and designed for frail older adults.
PhD student, Bridgitte Swales of the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences 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.'
Residents living in Olivet Care Home and Sheltered Apartments in Birmingham, run by Christadelphian Care Homes, have volunteered to participate in the Keeping Active in Residential Elderly study. 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.
Chief Investigator, Professor Anna Whittaker of the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, said, 'Physical activity has been shown to produce positive health benefits in older people.
'Additionally, physical activity interventions have been suggested as potentially offering the best form of treatment for frail older adults, affecting both mental and physical well-being.
'We recently found that exercising together increased feelings of connectedness among older adults and we hope that this study will also show these benefits of physical activity as part of a group, as well as positive effects on health.
'If this feasibility study proves practical it will lead to a larger clinical trial that could provide valuable evidence to change the way we care for older adults to improve their long-term health and wellbeing.'
Professor Janet Lord, of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, said, 'The message that exercise is man’s best friend has been lost over time and we are an increasingly sedentary society.
'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.'