High and odd impact exercise training improved physical function and fall risk factors in community-dwelling older men

High impact exercise programmes can improve bone strength, but little is known about whether this type of training further benefits fracture risk by improving physical function in older people. Objectives: This study investigated the influence of high impact exercise on balance, muscle function and morphology in older men. Methods: Fifty, healthy men (65-80 years) were assigned to a 6-month multidirectional hopping programme (TG) and twenty age and physical activity matched volunteers served as controls (CG). Before and after training, muscle function (hop performance, leg press and plantar- and dorsiflexion strength) and physiological determinants (muscle thickness and architecture) as well as balance control (sway path, one leg stance duration) were measured. Resting gastrocnemius medialis (GM) muscle thickness and architecture were assessed using ultrasonography. Results: Significant improvements in hop impulse (+12%), isometric leg-press strength (+4%) and ankle plantarflexion strength (+11%), dorsiflexor strength (+20%) were found in the TG compared to the CG (ANOVA interaction, P<0.05) and unilateral stance time improved over time for TG. GM muscle thickness indicated modest hypertrophy (+4%), but muscle architecture was unchanged. Conclusion: The positive changes in strength and balance after high impact and odd impact training would be expected to improve physical function in older adults.