To determine whether - and how - physical activity interventions are impacting on older people’s behaviour and ultimately their health, we need suitable measurement tools. The literature highlights the methodological weaknesses of existing research and discusses the challenges of ensuring the internal and external validity of measurement tools for older people. A methodological review is beyond the scope of this document. A summary of the key issues is given in Appendix 4.
Methodological challenges aside, there is level II evidence for the benefits of exercise across an array of biopsychosocial health outcomes in older people. The challenge for reviewers seeking to conduct meta-analyses is that studies have used a diverse collection of measurement tools for measuring the same outcome variable, making cross study comparison problematic. The outcome variability between and within individuals is further compounded by the variety of activity types researchers have evaluated.
Table 6.1 Common outcome measures and measurement tools used.
||Examples of tools|
||1RM, Dynamometer, Kincom, Cybex|
||Maximum oxygen consumption|
|6 minute walk test|
|10 m shuttle test|
||Range of motion|
||Walking speed, stride length,|
|cadence, step width|
||Clinical and laboratory tests of static|
|and dynamic balance, single and dual|
||Pedometers, Uptimer, activity monitors,|
|Human Activity Profile, PACE|
||Barthel Index, Katz Index, Lawton and|
|Brody’s IADL scale|
||SF-12, SF-36, SIP|
||CES-D, GDS, PGMS, POMS|
Future research will need to systematically employ well validated, age appropriate measurement instruments. In order to contextualise observed changes in an individual’s behaviour, researchers and evaluators need to incorporate both individual level data collection and ecological level data to determine mediators and predictors operating across individual, societal and system levels of influence.
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