The Effect of Land and Aquatic Exercise on Balance Scores in Older Adults

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Background and Purpose:

Lower body exercises are an important intervention in retraining balance. The aquatic environment has been identified as an appropriate medium to perform these exercises. The purpose of this research was to determine if aquatic exercise was more effective than land-based exercise when training balance.

Study Design:

The study involved a 2-group pretest-post-test design. The Berg Balance Scale (BBS) scores served as the outcome measure.


Eleven subjects completed this study. Five subjects were from an assisted living facility (age 83.2 ± 8.1 years) and 6 subjects were from an outpatient facility (age 75.0 ± 3.6 years). Each group did a comparable set of lower body exercises (2 times per week for 6 weeks), but one group exercised in the pool, and the other exercised on land. The data was analyzed using a mixed model 2x2 analysis of variance.


There was a significant main effect of time (p <.001) but not group on BBS scores.There was no significant interaction between group and time.


Regardless of the treatment medium, significant improvements were evidenced on the BBS between pretest and post-test. The utilization of lower body exercise, whether in water or on land, was accompanied by improved balance. Neither medium however was superior for retraining balance in the older adult.

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