Bergamin (2013) Water- versus land-based exercise in elderly subjects effects on physical performance

Introduction to Aquatic Exercise Benefits

Exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining health and physical function in the elderly. Water-based exercises, particularly in geothermal spring water, offer a unique environment that may enhance physical performance due to the buoyant and thermal properties of water. This study by Bergamin et al. explores the impact of aquatic exercise on physical performance and body composition among elderly subjects, comparing the effects to land-based exercise and a control group.

Study Design and Methodology

The research involved 59 healthy elderly participants, divided into three groups: an aquatic group (AG) exercising in hot spring water, a land group (LG) performing similar exercises on land, and a control group (CG) with no intervention. Over 24 weeks, AG and LG engaged in a multimodal exercise program designed to enhance overall physical function and muscle mass. The study assessed changes in physical performance, including strength and flexibility, and body composition using advanced imaging techniques.

Key Findings and Comparisons

Both AG and LG showed maintained knee-extension strength post-intervention. AG demonstrated significant improvements in dynamic balance and upper-body flexibility, indicating that aquatic exercises might be particularly effective in enhancing these aspects of physical performance. Additionally, AG experienced a notable reduction in fat mass, emphasizing the potential of water-based exercises in managing body composition.

Implications and Future Directions

The findings suggest that aquatic exercise in warm spring water is beneficial for improving dynamic balance, flexibility, and body composition among the elderly. The study highlights the therapeutic potential of water-based exercises and supports their inclusion in fitness programs for older adults. Future research should explore the long-term benefits and the underlying mechanisms that contribute to the observed improvements.

Keywords: Elderly, aquatic exercise, physical performance, body composition, dynamic balance, flexibility.

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