Exercise research impacts Canada’s older generation

Kimberley Gammage and a test subject

Kimberley Gammage, left, leads a test subject during her research into exercise environments and older adults.

Niagara has one of the oldest populations in Canada, and that fits the research of Kimberley Gammage just fine. The associate professor in Physical Education and Kinesiology is studying how exercise environments impact older adults.

Gammage, along with Allan Adkin and Panagiota Klentrou, is studying how the social and physical environments of exercise affect balance outcomes, body image, and anxiety levels in older adults. The gym can be an intimidating place, but getting stronger isn’t always measured by how much you can lift, or how long you can ride a bike. The psychological and physical environments of exercise affect outcomes as well, Gammage said.

With the study, Gammage’s team tests subjects aged 60 to 90 years old. It 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 like strength and balance improvement.

Gammage’s passion for the research stems from her days as a fitness instructor. Her research is used to help understand exercise motivation and patterns that will encourage exercise for life. This includes exercise as an older adult.

Exercise helps older adults on multiple levels, she said.

“There are huge benefits for older adults above the physical improvement, including independence, increased confidence, enhanced mobility and being ready for life’s challenges,” she said.

Many participants stay long after testing as has finished and develop regular exercise routines. By identifying the physical and social factors that affect exercise for older adults, researchers can better identify why they stop exercising. It will also tell us more about how to motivate older adults to incorporate exercise in their daily routines.

Undergraduate and graduate students volunteer their time to supervise and conduct testing.

To find out more, or to volunteer, email kgammage@brocku.ca

Physical Education and Kinesiology


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