Exercise Research: Women’s Health

Changes in function and disability after resistance training: does velocity matter?: a pilot study.

Sayers SP, Bean J, Cuoco A, LeBrasseur NK, Jette A, Fielding RA. Human Physilogy Laboratory, Department of Health Science, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2003 Aug;82(8):605-13.

Objective: To compare the effects of high- and low-velocity resistance training on functional performance and disability outcomes in physically limited older women.

Design: A total of 16 wk of high-velocity resistance training or traditional low-velocity resistance training consisting of knee extension and leg press exercises was performed three times per week by 30 women with self-reported disability to compare their effect on functional performance and disability. Tests of dynamic balance, stair-climb time, chair-rise time, and gait velocity were used to assess changes in functional performance. Changes in disability were assessed using the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form.

Results: Dynamic balance and stair-climb time improved 8% and 10%, respectively, with training. Self-reported disability, physical functioning, role physical, and mental health improved 11, 9, and 5% with training, respectively. There were no significant differences between high- and low-velocity training groups.

Conclusion: High- and low-velocity training achieved similar improvements in functional performance and disability. Improvements in functional performance and disability were modest compared with robust increases in strength and power. Specific modes of training or behavioral strategies may be necessary to optimize improvements in these outcomes.


Coronary heart disease risk between active and inactive women with multiple sclerosis.

Slawta JN, McCubbin JA, Wilcox AR, Fox SD, Nalle DJ, Anderson G.
Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, USA. slawta@sou.edu
Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002 Jun;34(6):905-12

Purpose: Physical activity is strongly recommended as a principal component of coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factor management aimed at favorably lowering abdominal fat accumulation, lowering levels of triglyceride (TG), raising levels of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), and improving insulin sensitivity. Although physical activity practices are reported to be low in women with multiple sclerosis (MS), some women with MS remain physically active despite their disability. Thus, the primary aim of the study was to determine whether abdominal fat accumulation and levels of TG, HDL-C, and glucose differ between active and inactive women with MS.

Methods: The study sample consisted of 123 women with MS, aged 23-72 yr. Venous blood was collected for measurement of lipids, lipoprotein-cholesterol, and glucose. Skin-fold thicknesses and girth circumferences were obtained for estimation of total and abdominal body fat. Leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) during the last 12 months was assessed by the physical activity questionnaire used in the Postmenopausal Estrogens/Progestins Intervention (PEPI) Study. Eating habits were assessed by the Block Food Frequency Questionnaire.

Results: LTPA was significantly associated with lower waist circumference (P = 0.0001), lower TG levels (P =0.0005), and lower glucose levels (0.002). After adjusting for several covariates, women participating in low- to moderate-intensity LTPA had significantly lower waist circumferences, TG levels, and glucose levels relative to inactive women.

Conclusion: Low- to moderate-intensity LTPA was significantly associated with less abdominal fat accumulation, lower levels of TG, and lower levels of glucose in the present sample of women with MS. These findings suggest that exercise levels attainable by women with MS may improve CHD risk and contribute to important health-related benefits.


Obesity as a confounding health factor among women with mobility impairment.

Sharts-Hopko NC, Sullivan MP. College of Nursing, Villanova University, USA. nancy.sharts-hopko@villanova.edu J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2003 Oct;15(10):438-43.

Purpose: To examine the relationships between self-reported height and weight and factors associated with disabilities that impair mobility among adult women.

Data Sources: Survey data were gathered from a convenience sample of 83 women with disabilities at community events targeting the disabled population. Height, weight, and factors associated with their disabilities were reported on a demographic questionnaire. Body mass index (BMI) was estimated using a conversion table and the self-reported height and weight of each participant.

Conclusion: The average self-reported weight was 168.3 lb. Only 38% of the women fell into the normal range on estimated BMI, but 62% of the women fell into the categories of overweight or obese. The incidence of overweight and obesity exceeded that reported for the general population of women in a national sample X2 = 6.48, p = 03, 2 df). Self-reported weight was positively correlated with the number of comorbidities reported by the women (r = .419, p < .0001).

_Implications: The issue of obesity is an important problem facing women with disabilities. Women who have mobility limitations need to be weighed periodically, and strategies should be devised for weight management, including both dietary plans and appropriate exercise regimens given their limitations.


Resistance training on physical performance in disabled older female cardiac patients.

Ades PA, Savage PD, Cress ME, Brochu M, Lee NM, Poehlman ET.
Division of Cardiology, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT, USA. Philip.Ades@vtmednet.org Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Aug;35(8):1265-70.

Purpose: We evaluated the value of resistance training on measures of physical performance in disabled older women with coronary heart disease (CHD).

Methods: The study intervention consisted of a 6-month program of resistance training in a randomized controlled trial format. Training intensity was at 80% of the single-repetition maximal lift. Control patients performed light yoga and breathing exercises. Study participants included 42 women with CHD, all >or= 65 yr of age and community dwelling. Subjects were screened by questionnaire to have low self-reported physical function. The primary study measurements related to the performance of 16 household activities of the Continuous Scale Physical Functional Performance test (CSPFP). These ranged from dressing, to kitchen and cleaning activities, to carrying groceries and walking onto a bus with luggage, and a 6-min walk. Activities were measured in time to complete a task, weight carried during a task, or distance walked. Other measures included body composition, measures of aerobic fitness and strength, and questionnaire-based measures of physical function and depression score.

Results: Study groups were similar at baseline by age, aerobic capacity, strength, body composition, and in performing the CSPFP. After conditioning, 13 of 16 measured activities were performed more rapidly, or with increased weight carried, compared with the control group (all P < 0.05). Maximal power for activities that involved weight-bearing over a distance, increased by 40% (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Disabled older women with CHD who participate in an intense resistance-training program improve physical capacity over a wide range of household physical activities. Benefits extend beyond strength-related activities, as endurance, balance, coordination, and flexibility all improved. Strength training should be considered an important component in the rehabilitation of older women with CHD.