Background: Aging compromises the ability of the central nervous system to maintain body balance and reduces the capacity for adaptive reactions. To prevent falls, the reception conditions for sensory information need to be improved. Objectives: To evaluate the impact of a structured aquatic and a non-aquatic exercise program for lower-limb muscle endurance on the static and dynamic balance of elderly people. Methods: This was a prospective randomized clinical study in which the variables were assessed before and after the training program. Thirty-six elderly people were evaluated using four tests: the Berg Balance Scale, Dynamic Gait Index, gait speed and tandem gait. The participants were randomized into three groups: aquatic exercise group, non-aquatic exercise group and control group. The exercise groups underwent a program for lower-limb muscle endurance that consisted of 40-minute sessions twice a week for six weeks. The participants were reevaluated after six weeks. The data were analyzed statistically using the univariate ANOVA test for comparisons between the groups before and after the intervention. Results: The program for lower-limb muscle endurance significantly increased balance (p<0.05) in the evaluation tests after the training program. Conclusion: The muscle endurance program provided a significant improvement in static and dynamic balance among community-dwelling elderly people. It was also possible to infer that this improvement occurred regardless of the environment, i.e. aquatic or non-aquatic.
Key words: hydrotherapy; physical therapy; elderly people.