Background: The feasibility and benefits of a 24-week targeted progressive supervised resistance and weight-bearing exercise programme (Group Aged Care Exercise + GAIT (GrACE + GAIT)) in the residential aged care (RAC) setting was investigated as very little peer-reviewed research has been conducted in relation to exercise programmes of this duration in this cohort.
Methods: A quasi-experimental study design consisting of two groups (control and exercise) explored a 24-week targeted progressive supervised resistance and weight-bearing exercise programme (GrACE + GAIT) in two RAC facilities in Northern New South Wales, Australia. A total of 42 adults consented to participate from a total of 68 eligible residents (61.7%). The primary outcome measures were feasibility and sustainability of the exercise programme via intervention uptake, session adherence, attrition, acceptability and adverse events. Secondary measures included gait speed and the spatio-temporal parameters of gait, handgrip muscle strength and sit to stand performance.
Results: Twenty-three residents participated in the exercise intervention (mean (SD) 85.4 (8.1) years, 15 females) and 19 in the control group (87.4 (6.6) years 13 females). Exercise adherence was 79.3%, with 65% of exercise participants attending ≥70% of the sessions; 100% of those originally enrolled completed the programme and strongly agreed with the programme acceptability. Zero exercise-related adverse events were reported. ANCOVA results indicated that post-intervention gait speed significantly increased (p < 0.001) with an 18.8% increase in gait speed (m/s).
Discussion: The GrACE + GAIT programme was shown to be feasible and significantly improve adults living in RAC facilities gait speed, handgrip strength and sit to stand performance. These results suggest that the GrACE + GAIT programme is suitable for use in the RAC sector and that it has the potential to reduce disability and improve function and quality of life of the residents.