Effect of regular physical activity on functional independence and health of the elderly at Bakateyamba home in Kampala
Kasoma, Sandra Birabwa
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The study was set to determine the functional independence: the physical and health fitness (the lower body muscle strength, the static balance, the gait quality, the dynamic balance and the cardiovascular endurance and the changes in the blood pressure). In addition, the physical activity patterns, the nutrition patterns, the sleep patterns and the prevalence of chronic illnesses of the elderly were assessed before and after an intervention of a physical activity programme (PAP) based on the Community Health Intervention Programmes (CHIPs). The study employed a quasi-experimental design. Purposive sampling technique was used in selecting the target group: the Bakateyamba Home and the sample of the 40 elderly that were residing in the home. The researcher conducted a pre-test before commencement of the PAP that lasted 8 weeks and post tests at halftime (4 weeks) and fulltime (8 weeks) to determine the effect of PAP on the variables under study. An interview was administered to both the elderly subjects and the caregivers to obtain information about their physical activity patterns, nutrition patterns, sleep patterns and prevalence of chronic illnesses. The personal data files for the elderly Were used to provide more information about the elderly. 17 elderly who successfully completed the study availed the data for this study. The results have been organized in tables, graphs and analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) programme and Statistics data analysis (Stata 9). The pre-test and post test data of the group was analysed using a Kruskal Wallis Test and Fishers' Exact Test at p=0.05. The eight-week PAP caused significant effect on the lower body strength p=0.001, the gait quality p=O.013, the diastolic blood pressure p=0.016 and the heart rate p=0.010 of the elderly. Changes were also noted in the activity patterns of the elderly. Significant improvement were noted in the sleep patterns p=0.006. The nutritional problems were significantly improved p=0.025. Additionally, the frequency of chronic illness attacks reduced significantly p=0.012 just as the self reports on how the elderly persons perceived their health showed significant improvement p=O.OOOl. There were however, no significant changes in the cardiovascular endurance, the systolic blood pressure, the static and dynamic balance of the elderly by the end of the 8-week PAP. The study concluded that the 8-week low intensity PAP was safe and effective in improving the functional independence and health of the elderly. The 8 weeks' PAP is adequate in improving the activity patterns, reducing constipation problems, reducing chronic illness attacks and reducing sleep problems among elderly. However, other aspects where the 8 week PAP did not cause significant effects may require administering the PAP for a longer period with varying intensity. The elderly should be encouraged to involve in adequate and regular forms of physical activity and exercise at least three days a week for 30 -50 minutes each day.
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