Comparison of the effects of two types of fitness/flexibility programs on gait, mobility and self-esteem of older females

M. J.L. Alexander, R. Nickel, S. L. Boreskie, M. Searle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The ability of older adults to retain skill and mobility in daily activities such as walking, rising to stand and reaching above the head are important aspects of a quality lifestyle. The problem investigated in the present study was to determine the effects of two fitness/flexibility programs on the gait and mobility characteristics of older adults (age over 65 years). Three groups of female subjects, a pool exercise group (N=24), a walking exercise group (N=25) and a control group (N=17), underwent a series of pretests. These consisted of evaluation of joint flexibility of the hip, ankle, knee, shoulder and neck, using a Leighton flexometer and bilateral grip strength, as well as a sit and reach test. All subjects were filmed using two shuttered video cameras while walking along a marked walkway, at a freely chosen speed, and the film was analyzed in detail using biomechanical techniques to determine the three dimensional gait and lower limb mobility characteristics of each subject. As well, three measures of self-esteem were administered to the subjects at the beginning of the study. The two experimental groups were then enrolled in one of two 12 week exercise programs, one program in the water and the other a land-based program. The control group received no structured exercise program. Both groups then underwent a post test, using the same test procedures as employed in the pretest, including the flexibility tests, biomechanical filming and psychological tests. Statistical comparison of the test results using ANOVA was conducted to determine the significance of the differences between the pre and post test scores for flexibility and movement characteristics and for the measures of self-esteem for the two experimental and control groups. The experimental subjects improved in hip and lower back flexibility and ankle flexibility, while the control subjects experienced no such improvements. The exercise subjects also improved significantly in grip strength of both the left and right hands and the total of both hands. The exercise subjects also improved significantly in several biomechanical variables of gait, including stride length, stride rate, stance time, toe clearance, average velocity, vertical displacement of the center of gravity and pelvic displacement. There were no significant differences in the psychological variables measured from pre test to post test, for either of the three groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-268
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Human Movement Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Flexibility
  • Gait biomechanics
  • Older women
  • Self esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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