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Once a week is not enough: effects of a widely implemented group based exercise programme for older adults; a randomised controlled trial
  1. M Stiggelbout1,
  2. D Y Popkema2,
  3. M Hopman-Rock1,4,
  4. M de Greef2,
  5. W van Mechelen3,4
  1. 1TNO Prevention and Health, Leiden, Netherlands
  2. 2Institute of Human Movement Sciences, University of Groningen, Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Social Medicine, and Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU Medical Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  4. 4Body@Work Research Center Physical Activity, Work, and Health TNO-VU, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M Stiggelbout
 TNO Prevention and Health, PO-Box 2215, 2301 CE Leiden, Netherlands;


Objectives: To determine the effects of gymnastics on the health related quality of life (HRQoL) and functional status of independently living people, aged 65 to 80 years. Gymnastics formed part of the More Exercise for Seniors (MBvO in Dutch) programme, a group based exercise programme for older adults in the Netherlands. It has been widely implemented since 1980.

Design: Randomised controlled trial with pretest and post-test measurements.

Intervention: The exercise programme given by experienced instructors lasted 10 weeks and was given weekly (MBvO1; n = 125, six groups) or twice weekly (MBvO2; n = 68, six groups). The control group (n = 193) was offered a health education programme.

Setting: Community dwelling of older people, with a comparatively low level of fitness as assessed with the Groningen Fitness test for the Elderly.

Results: No significant effects were found on the HRQoL (Vitality Plus Scale, TAAQoL, and RAND-36) and the functional status (Physical Performance Test and the Groningen Activity Restriction Scale). The MBvO2 group, with a low level of physical activity at baseline, showed the only improvement found on the Vitality Plus Scale (F = 4.53; p = 0.01).

Conclusions: MBvO gymnastics once a week did not provide benefits in HRQoL and functional status after 10 weeks. However, participants with a low level of physical activity may benefit from MBvO gymnastics if they participate twice a week. To improve the health of the general public, sedentary older adults should be recruited and encouraged to combine MBvO with the health enhancing physical activity guidelines.

  • exercise
  • elderly population
  • randomised controlled trial
  • MBvO, More Exercise for Seniors
  • HRQoL, health related quality of life
  • PPT, Physical Performance Test
  • GARS, Groningen Activity Restriction Scale

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  • Funding: we would like to acknowledge the Netherlands Health Research and Development Council (ZonMw), The Hague, the Netherlands, for funding this study (grant nr 2200.0062).

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

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