The  elements of healthy ageing

The components of fitness and physical performance which are central to sustained wellbeing amongst older adults are aerobic fitness, muscular strength, balance, flexibility and social wellbeing.  With age, we lose muscle tissue and our muscles become more rigid and less toned, and alongside this, older adults also see a deterioration in balance. Aerobic exercise, strength training and stretching help to maintain and improve strength, cardiovascular health and flexibility and help to counter this natural process, thereby improving quality of life for older adults.

 

Innerva's range of equipment has been evaluated in numerous studies over the years, most recently in late 2021, at the AWRC (Advanced Wellness Research Centre) based at Sheffield Hallam University, where biomechanical, muscular and physiological responses to power assisted exercise amongst healthy older adults were measured. Results conclusively showed the immediate beneficial physical responses to exercising on Innerva equipment and hence the positive impact on the five elements of healthy ageing, assisting in maintaining and improving the quality of everyday living. 

The most recent study results showed that users of Innerva equipment achieved an average metabolic equivalent of 3-4 METS across the full circuit of 12 machines during their full workout including an initial warm up, through to their main workout and cooldown. In fact, participants achieved up to 8 to 9 METS at some points, with some achieving maximal heart rates (for their age) of up to 130/140 bpm. The interval nature of the Innerva workout allows users to work from low to moderate to high intensity exercise, with harder efforts being equivalent to jogging at a moderate pace or taking part in a vigorous game of tennis! This data is strong evidence that exercising with Innerva equipment will improve aerobic fitness.

01. Aerobic Fitness

Aerobic fitness is the body's ability to transport oxygen to exercising muscles. It is important for everyday activities such as climbing steps, walking and gardening. Improving aerobic fitness has multiple health benefits including decreased risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.

02. Muscular Strength

Strength is the body's ability to move against resistance through muscular force. It is important for everyday activities such as carrying shopping, household chores and walking. By maintaining muscular strength, we can prevent the onset of frailty and sustain an independent lifestyle.

03. Balance

Balance is the ability to stay upright and remain stable whilst moving between sitting, standing and walking. Balance is influenced by strength, flexibility and reaction times. Regular exercise is known to improve balance, reducing the risk of falls and injury. 

04. Flexibility

Flexibility is the body's ability to move through a normal range of movement. It is important for everyday activities which require bending and reaching such as gardening and getting up and down from the floor. Good flexibility will decrease the risk of musculoskeletal pain and injury. 

05. Social Wellbeing

Good psychosocial health is important for confidence and a positive outlook on life. Exercise, community activity and social contact are known to boost psychosocial health and reduce the impact of loneliness amongst older adults.

EMG data from the laboratory testing also demonstrated that users were continuously switching on and off their muscles. With a focus on the four major muscle groups – the quadriceps, hamstrings, biceps and triceps; data showed continued activation across the equipment circuit, with muscular effort reaching 70% of maximum capacity. It is essential that older adults maintain function and strength of these major muscle groups to facilitate everyday chores, improve wellbeing and minimise frailty.

The recent study by the AWRC also collected motion analysis data which confirmed that the joints of the arms, trunk and legs were continuously assisted through between 50 to 85 percent of range of motion, which will enable users to improve their ability to reach, turn and bend. The combination of seated and recumbent machines enables users to move between different positions which will optimise agility and flexibility, preventing pain and stiffness amongst older adults.

Naturally improvements in strength and flexibility will also positively impact on balance. A previous study with Oklahoma State University has proven the effectiveness of the Innerva circuit on balance and flexibility, as well as a the more recent Feasibility study undertaken at Sheffield Hallam in 2018, which concluded that performance of balance tasks improves following a programme of power assisted exercise. The data collected at the AWRC recorded various speeds of movement; slow movement will improve postural control whilst the experience of moving quickly will improve reaction times for balance.

Overall, the equipment helps to maintain range and choice of movement due to the multi-directional, whole body combination of movement that the Innerva circuit provides. Users can adjust their own effort according to their exercise goals to achieve multiple benefits including improved aerobic fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.

'The five elements of healthy ageing research generates robust evidence that Innerva equipment enables users to engage in a combined aerobic and strength training workout which incorporates whole body movement. The data indicates that high intensity aerobic and muscular efforts were interspersed with low intensity activity to gain the benefits of interval training and enable users to adjust their effort according to their fitness goals and ability. Multiple speed settings combined with multi-directional movement helps users to maintain or improve balance performance.'

Rachel Young, Research Fellow, AWRC

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