Micah D. Josephson1, John G. Williams2

1University of Delaware, Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, Newark, DE, USA
2West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Department of Kinesiology, West Chester, PA, USA

Functional-Strengthening: A Pilot Study on Balance Control Improvement in Community-Dwelling Older Adults

Monten. J. Sports Sci. Med. 2017, 6(2), 75-78 | DOI: 10.26773/mjssm.2017.09.010


Adults over the age of 65 have a 1 in 3 chance of falling; in 2012, more than $30 billion was spent on medical costs due to these falls. The division of resistance training and neuromotor training balance improvement interventions has shown to yield low to moderate results. Athletes combine both resistance training and skill development (function) training to improve skilled performance. Older adults may not be performing high-level sports activities, but still require strength, power, and functional fitness levels to perform relatively high-level skills. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of combining resistance and functional training into functional-strength training on dynamic balance control in moderately active older adults. Eighteen healthy older adults were divided into three groups; functional resistance, standard resistance, and control. All groups met for their intervention twice a week for six weeks. Dynamic balance was assessed using the Fullerton Advanced Balance Scale (0-40). Results of individual paired T-tests showed a significant improvement in balance control in the functional resistance group (t(5) =-3.492, p=.017) and a very large effect size (d=1.33) whereas neither the standard resistance nor control group had a significant reduction in the risk of falls. Manipulating multidimensional, neuromotor function during resistance training exercises is an effective method of applying the overload principle in order to reduce falls risk in moderately active seniors.


Neuromotor, ADL, Falls risk, Overload progression, Functional training

View full article
(PDF – 202KB)


Buchner, D. M., Cress, M. E., de Lateur, B. J., Esselman, P. C., Margherita, J., Price, R., & Wagner, E. H. (1997). The effect of strength and endurance training on gait, balance, fall risk, and health services use in community-living older adults. The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 52(4), M218–M224.

Hazell, T., Kenno, K., & Jakobi, J. (2007). Functional benefit of power training for older adults. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 15(3), 349–359.

Henry, T. (2011). Resistance Training for Judo: Functional Strength Training Concepts and Principles. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 33(6), 40–49. http://doi.org/10.1519/SSC.0b013e31823a6675

Islam, M. M., Nasu, E., Rogers, M. E., Koizumi, D., Rogers, N. L., & Takeshima, N. (2004). Effects of combined sensory and muscular training on balance in Japanese older adults. Preventive Medicine, 39(6), 1148–1155. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.04.048

Kenny, R. A., Rubenstein, L. Z., Tinetti, M. E., Brewer, K., Cameron, K. A., Capezuti, L., … Peterson, E. W. (2011). Summary of the Updated American Geriatrics Society/British Geriatrics Society clinical practice guideline for prevention of falls in older persons. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 59(1), 148–157. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03234.x

Means, K. M., Rodell, D. E., O’Sullivan, P. S., & Cranford, L. a. (1996). Rehabilitation of elderly fallers: pilot study of a low to moderate intensity exercise program. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 77(10), 1030–1036.

Myer, G., Ford, K., Palumbo, J., & Hewett, T. (2005). Neuromuscular training improves performance and lower-extremity biomechanics in female athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, 19(1), 51–60.

Rose, D. J., Lucchese, N., & Wiersma, L. D. (2006). Development of a multidimensional balance scale for use with functionally independent older adults. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 87(11), 1478–1485. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2006.07.263

Sayers, S. P. (2007). High-speed power training: A novel approach to resistance training older men and women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, 21(2), 518–526.

Stevens, J. A., Ballesteros, M. F., Mack, K. A., Rudd, R. A., DeCaro, E., & Adler, G. (2012). Gender differences in seeking care for falls in the aged Medicare population. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 43(1), 59–62. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2012.03.008

Topp, R., Mikesky, A., Wigglesworth, J., Holt, W., & Edwards, J. E. (1993). The Effect of a 12-week Dynamic Resistance Strength Training Program on Gait Velocity and Balance of Older Adults. The Gerontologist, 33(4), 501–506. http://doi.org/10.1093/geront/33.4.501