Brock Researcher Works to Keep One of Canada’s Oldest Populations Feeling Young

Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Brock Researcher Works to Keep One of Canada’s Oldest Populations Feeling Young

The gym can be a very intimidating place, especially for older adults. Lifting weights and riding an exercise bike are aspects of working out, however getting stronger isn’t always measured by how much you can lift, or how long you can ride a bike. Both the psychological and physical environments of exercise affect the outcomes.

In 2007 Stats Canada reported the Niagara Region to be the oldest census metropolitan area in Ontario with the highest proportion of seniors aged 65 and over. This area is also one of the oldest populations in Canada, which is a great place for the research of Brock University Professor Kimberley Gammage. Her most recent study, with Drs. Allan Adkin and Panagiota Klentrou, is currently examining how the social and physical environments of exercise affect balance outcomes, body image, and anxiety levels in older adults.

The demographic for this study ranges from 60-90 years of age. The study involves a 12-week period of exercise, which includes cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and balance training. Many outcomes are assessed, including psychological variables such as body image and confidence, as well as physical outcomes such as strength improvement and balance improvement, to determine their relationship with independence in everyday life.

Her passion for research has derived from her days as a fitness instructor that raised important questions regarding body image, and self-presentational concerns. Driven by her passion--- Kim’s research is used to help understand exercise motivation and patterns to encourage exercise across the lifespan – from adolescents to older adults.

Gammage, whose research allows her to work closely with older adults says, “There are huge benefits for older adults above the physical improvement, including independence, increased confidence, enhanced mobility and being ready for life’s challenges”

Many of the participants stay long after testing has finished, and develop regular exercise routines. Uncovering the physical and social factors that affect exercise for older adults serves as a series of building blocks to help build a more complete life for older adults. Recognizing these factors help to identify why people stop exercising, and how to motivate people to take the initiative to put exercise into daily routines.

Focus groups report that research participants enjoy being treated as individuals who are important. Kim’s research initiatives help older adults feel welcomed in an exercise environment, while understanding why other environments may lead them to stop working out – or fail to start at all.

This research is supported by undergraduate and graduate students that volunteer their time to supervise and conduct testing. Students are given the opportunity to find their research passion, but also provide members of the community another side to student life.

To find out more about this research or to get involved as a volunteer, Please contact Kim Gammage at kgammage@brocku.ca 

 

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