ABSTRACT: A group of 20 healthy older adults (females = 17, males = 3), who ranged in age from 66 to 84 years, participated in a movement program designed to enhance functional outcomes. The program, Motivating Moves®, was designed by a Laban movement analyst. It consisted of 14 movement sequences set to music especially composed to reflect the dynamics, rhythm, timing, and phrasing of the movements. After 5 weeks, individuals showed statistically significant increases in Reuben's Physical Performance Test (Reuben & Siu, 1990) in areas of gait speed and putting on and removing a jacket. For those persons (n = 5) who extended their involvement beyond 5 weeks, additional changes were not statistically significant. All participants indicated through anonymous comments that they experienced positive physical outcomes, that they enjoyed the program, and that they would recommend it to others.
Individuals 85 years and older comprise the fastest growing segment of the world's population, and projections have indicated there will be 70 million people age 65 years or older in the United States by the year 2030 (Mazzeo et al., 1998). With this increase in older individuals, it is essential to identify ways to maintain good physical functioning that serve to improve overall life quality while they promote independence (Mazzeo et al., 1998; Seeman et al., 1995). Research has shown that active lifestyle habits into late years reduce disability or compress it into a shorter period toward the end of life, which decreases overall lifetime disability and decreases health care costs (Garrett, Brasure, Schmitz, Schultz, & Huber, 2004; Hubert, Bloch, Oehlert, & Fries, 2002; Leveille, Guralnik, Ferrucci, & Langlois, 1999).
While evidence shows that physically active lifestyles reduce the risks for mortality and lead to longer, healthy lives (Sundquist, Qvist, Sundquist, & Johansson, 2004), the most sedentary segment of the adult population is over the age of 50 with the greatest number of sedentary persons older than 75 years (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996). Researchers have found that this group accounts for the largest proportion of chronic disease and disability in the United States and requires the largest proportion of health care dollars (Berg & Casells, 1990.; Hoffman, Rice, & Sung, 1996; LaPlant, 1989). Research has also shown that some chronic health conditions begin as early as age 50 (Huang et al., 1998), yet these conditions have a potential for prevention (Berg & Casells, 1990; Hoffman et al., 1996; LaPlant, 1989; Lonegran & Krevans, 1992).
Researchers have found that functional decline tends to increase as people age. Yet, physical activity can build physical function that facilitates persons' abilities to perform activities of daily living, adding to life quality (Pollock, Graves, Swart, & Lowenthal, 1994). Research has also shown that deteriorated physical strength and flexibility can lead to falls, which may result in the most serious injuries experienced by older adults (Province et al., 1995) and even death (Sattin, 1992). Those who survive falls have experienced decline in activities of daily living, physical activities, and social interactions (Dunn, Rudberg, Furner, & Cassel, 1992; Kiel, O'Sullivan, Teno, & Mor, 1991) and have greater incidences of institutionalization (Tinetti, Liu, & Claus, 1993). Participation in moderate or strenuous activity is associated with improved physical performance in older adults even when they have compromised baseline health (seeman et al., 1995).
Most falls in older adults are caused by physical deficits in strength, reaction time, and flexibility (Province et al., 1995) and by disturbances in balance (Cho & Kamen, 1998; Hornbrook et al., 1994; Province et al., 1995; Tinetti et al., 1994; Tinetti, Speechley, & Cinter, 1988; Tinetti, Williams, & Mayewski, 1986) and gait (Cho & Kamen, 1998; Hornbrook et al. …