Researchers at the UCLA School of Medicine have developed an exercise program that increases both physical activity and mobility endurance in extremely frail nursing home residents.
The intervention, called Functional Incidental Training (FTT), breaks new ground by targeting severely cognitively and functionally impaired nursing home residents who often are routinely excluded from studies on the benefits of exercise.
The FIT program is unique because it encourages brief periods of exercise at regular intervals throughout the day (every two hours, up to four times a day) in contrast to more traditional programs in which an exercise regime is followed only once a day. The exercises, which include repetitions of standing, walking and wheelchair propulsion, are designed to improve functional skills of nursing home residents in activities of daily living as well as to gradually build exercise endurance.
"Distributing exercise over the course of a day reduces die risk of overexertion and injury in an extremely deconditioned population, and may also have more positive health outcome benefits," said the study's co-principal investigator, Dr. Priscilla MacRae, adjunct assistant professor at the UCLA School of Medicine and professor of sports medicine at Pepperdine University. "FTT is also a one-on-one program, not a group program, so exercise is matched to the individual resident's exercise tolerance or ability."
To maximize the efficient use of staff time, FIT is designed to be integrated into almost any daily routine that is done several times a day such as grooming or preparing for a meal.