Objectives Studies on the elderly revealed that the negative effects of ageing are limited or even reversed through regular exercise and the elderly well-being can be enhanced by active exercise participation. Regarding exercise intensity, low to moderate exercise is more effective and safety for elderly than vigorous. As more individuals live longer, it is crucial to determine the extent and mechanisms by which physical activity can improve health, functional capacity, life quality and independence in this population. Participation in regular physical activity elicits a variety of favourable responses that contribute to healthy ageing. It is therefore desirable to create an exercise program for the elderly and examine the effect and exercise benefits in their health.
Aim Current study examines the effects of systematic moderate intensity aerobic exercise, lasting 6 months, on body weight (BW), fasting plasma glucose (FPG), total cholesterol (TCh) and blood pressure (BP).
Methods 51 elderly volunteers women (mean age 69.03 ± 4.16 years) participated in a 6- month moderate aerobic and resistance training program. The training group performed endurance training, 3 days a week for 24 weeks, at 60-70% of the maximum heart rate according to Borg scale. Inclusion criteria were: 1) over 65 years old, 2) no administration of medication, complete inactivity (≥1 year), 2) maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) < 25 ml/kg/min, 3) weight stability ( ± 2 kg) prior to entry (≥6 months), 3) absence of restraining orthopaedic/neuromuscular diseases, 4) resting BP < 160/100 mmHg and 5) no chronic cardiovascular, metabolic and other severe diseases. All data are presented as mean ± SD. Student’s t-test for independent samples was used to explore differences between two groups. ANOVA repeated measures (3 times/measurements X 2 groups), including Sidak post hoc analysis was employed to determinate differences in biochemical and anthropometrical parameters. Statistical significance was p < 0.05 for all tests. Statistical analyses were performed using SPSS 20.
Results BW and BMI were altered only after 6 months of systematic training, at which, the percentage of alterations differed significantly in 1st (pre-training) and 2nd (3 months) evaluations (p = 0.001). Combination of moderate aerobic exercise and resistance systematic training affected the systolic BP of the elderly healthy women. Particularly, group depended (p = 0.008) changes were detected between 2nd and 3rd evaluations (p = 0.01). FPG was significantly reduced, compared to the 1st (pre-training values), after the 2nd (3 months) and 3rd (6 months) evaluations (p = 0.001). However, these alterations were group depended (p = 0.04), with higher percentage reductions in the 1st age group (65-75 years). Contrariwise, diastolic BP and TCh were not altered by this training program (p > 0.05). A statistically significant difference was found in FPG in the total group. After the sample division in two age-groups (1st group: 65-75 & 2nd group: 76-81 years old) BW, BMI, FPG and systolic BP had a statistically significant improvement between the two measurements. As regard the two age-groups, the systolic BP decreased significantly (p = 0.001).
Conclusions A six-month of systematic physical activity exercise can lead to health benefits and subsequently improve weight, BMI, FPG levels and systolic BP in healthy elderly women. Thus elderly people still have the capacity to reduce the levels of FPG, control BW and ameliorate their BP in response to appropriate exercise training. This response may have physiological and clinical significance for older individuals because of the numerous interactions between FPG, systolic BP and the cardiovascular and metabolic systems.
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