Effects of upper body resistance while treadmill walking in older adults

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Berry, Bobby D.
Patterson, Jeremy A.
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Individuals have been adding hand-weights to walking regimens to increase caloric expenditure and arm strength. This is typically contraindicated due to changes in mechanics caused by weighted swinging arms. To address this safety concern we used a new commercial treadmill with a modified support rail that allowed a resistance to be applied to the upper body without the force of the swinging hand-weights. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to assess functional strength, balance and walking speed on older adults, while walking on a modified treadmill that applied intermittent upper-body static presses and see the effects. METHODS: Five older adults (age: 75 plus-minus 14 yrs) males(n= 2) and females (n=3) completed four weeks of exercise trials twice per week. (WALK + RES) were tested on the same days. The WALK + RES trial used a specially designed treadmill equipped with an adjustable weighted sled apparatus. Subjects walked at their desired speed throughout the trial starting at a grade of 0% which was not increased during the ten minutes. The WALK + RES trial incorporated an upper body static press against a weighted sled set at 5% of their body weight as resistance. During the WALK + RES trial, subjects completed ten minutes of 30 second static presses separated by 30 seconds of upper-body relaxation. RPE was recorded at the ten minute trial using the Borg scale, respectively. At the start and finish of the four weeks balance, & strength were retested to see if any gains were made. RESULTS: Strength gains were made on everyone tested and balance gains were also made. CONCLUSION: Adding upper-body resistance to walking significantly increases workload. The modified treadmill allows participants to fix their hands to a rail, similar to pushing a cart addressing the safety concerns of lumbar rotation caused by hand-weights Adding functional resistance upper-body exercise during walking may be an effective mode of exercise to increase strength, balance and activities of daily living in special populations.

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Thesis (M.Ed)--Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Human Performance Studies
Wichita State University
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