The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of a combined resistance and balance exercise (CRBE) program to a program consisting only of resistance exercise (RE) on strength and balance in older adults. Elastic resistance bands were used in both groups during resistance training.
Twenty-two community-dwelling volunteers participated in 12 weeks of simultaneous supervised (1d/wk, 90 min/day) center-based exercise (15 min warm-up, 60 min of CRBE, and 15 min of cool down) and unsupervised home-based exercise (at least 2 d/wk). CRBE was performed while sitting in a chair (first 4 wk) and then progressed to standing positions using foam pads of different firmness with the aim of challenging the physiological systems that control balance. An additional 25 community-dwelling volunteers participated in 12 weeks of simultaneous supervised (1 d/wk, 90 min/day) center-based exercise (15 min of warm-up, 60 min of band-based RE, and 15 min of cool-down) and unsupervised home-based exercise (at least 2 d/wk). Strength was evaluated using 30-s arm curl (AC) and 30-s chair stand (CS) tests and balance was measured using a computerized posturography platform (sway velocity [SV] in 4 directions) in all participants before and after the intervention.
After training, both exercise groups showed significant improvements in muscle strength (CRBE: AC 13%, CS 15%; RE: AC 16%, CS 15%). SV improved only in CRBE (14%). No significant changes were noted in any variables in the control group. These results suggest that a resistance exercise program utilizing elastic resistance, whether alone or in combination with balance exercise, will improve strength in relatively similar amounts over 12 weeks. With the addition of balance exercise, improvements in static balance are gained which may have a positive affect on fall risk for participants.