Group Training Aims To Foster Safe Ambulation In Older Adults
18 April 2018
Increasing physical activity and preventing falls in older adults is the focus of a research project launched by the Network Aging Research (NAR) of Heidelberg University. Under the direction of Dr Michael Schwenk, the team of researchers is investigating a group approach to the so-called LiFE programme, a training regimen integrated into daily routine. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing approximately 1.9 million euros in funding for the three-year cooperation project. The team conducting the study, entitled LiFE-is-LiFE, includes sport scientists, medical researchers, psychologists and health economists from Hamburg, Stuttgart and Ulm.
Dr Schwenk explains that programmes to boost daily physical activity frequently target so called aerobic performances, such as regular walking, and focus less on preserving strength and balance. “But this can increase the risk of falls in frail older individuals,” explains the researcher. The LiFE programme, which was developed by Australian researchers, takes this fact into account. The programme includes exercises to improve strength, balance, and locomotor function that are integrated into the daily routine and is taught by experienced trainers on an individual basis. The researchers under the direction of Dr Schwenk are studying whether this form of training, when taught in a group setting, is equally effective at increasing activity levels in older adults and reducing the risk of falls.
To this end, the researchers are developing a group programme that is based on the LiFE principles. Their study will then compare the results of the group versus one-on-one training by regularly measuring the activity levels and frequency of falls in both groups. Other psychosocial and health economics information such as motivation, self-regulatory strategies, strength of habit, and quality of life will also be collected. “The comparative study will allow us to determine if the LiFE approach can be successfully taught in a group programme,” states Dr Schwenk. “A standardised teaching curriculum for trainers will also be developed.”
Michael Schwenk has been a Junior Research Group Leader in the field of sport science at Network Aging Research since 2016. His research focuses on movement analysis, motor skills, cognition, and fall prevention. At Heidelberg University, Dr Schwenk also directs the ENSuRE project, a BMBF-funded project in which the researchers are creating a systematic overview of treatment options for muscle wasting in old age.
Those interested in participating in the LiFE-is-LiFE study can call (06221) 54-8115 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Subjects must be aged 70 or over and live in the Heidelberg or Stuttgart area.