Water Exercises for Older Adults

The Effects of a Short Term Novel Aquatic Exercise Program on Functional Strength and Performance of Older Adults

H. Scott Kieffer, Danielle M. Veacock, Laura Korkuch – Messiah College and Marie Attanasi Lehman – Central Pennsylvania Rehab Services


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a short-term novel multidimensional aquatic exercise program on functional abilities of healthy older adults.

Twenty-six men and women (mean age 76.33 + 5.55 years) were recruited and assigned to an aquatic- (n = 15) or land-based (n = 11) training group.

The aquatic training group completed a multidimensional water exercise program that incorporated resistance training, functional exercise movements and rudimentary aquatic plyometric activities.

The active control group participated in a supervised land-based fitness program.

Each exercise intervention was conducted over an 8-week period (16 sessions of 30 – 40 minutes) with the training load progression adjusted equally between groups using the 6 – 20 Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE).

Prior to and immediately following the intervention, both groups were evaluated with select components of the Senior Fitness Test. The 30-second chair stand, 30-second arm curl, and 8 foot up and go were selected as measures of strength and functional abilities.

The results of an independent t-test indicated that the control and experimental groups were matched for functional abilities prior to the intervention. A 2 (group) x 2 (time) analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) with repeated measures revealed significant differences in the pre- to post-testing measures for the aquatic training program for the arm curl (p < 0.01) and the 8 foot up and go (p = 0.02). Analysis of the active control revealed no pre-post differences for any measure. Thus, a short-term aquatic exercise program with multidimensional intervention strategies will significantly enhance functional abilities in older adults when compared to a functionally matched active control group.

Recommended Citation
Kieffer, H. Scott; Attanasi Lehman, Marie; Veacock, Danielle M.; and Korkuch, Laura (2012) “The Effects of a Short Term Novel Aquatic Exercise Program on Functional Strength and Performance of Older Adults,” International Journal of Exercise Science: Vol. 5: Iss. 4, Article 2.

Available at: http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol5/iss4/2