Gait & Posture, Volume 41, Issue 1, January 2015, Pages 252–257
Older adults are increasingly being encouraged to exercise but this may lead to muscle fatigue, which can adversely affect postural stability. Few studies have investigated the effects of upper body exercise on postural sway in groups at risk of falling, such as the elderly. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects arm crank ergometry (ACE), cycle ergometry (CE) and treadmill walking (TM) on postural sway in healthy older females. In addition, this study sought to determine the time necessary to recover postural control after exercise. A total of nine healthy older females participated in this study. Participants stood on a force platform to assess postural sway which was measured by displacement of the centre of pressure before and after six separate exercise trials. Each participant completed three incremental exercise tests to 85% of individual's theoretical maximal heart rate (HRMAX) for ACE, CE and TM. Subsequent tests involved 20-min of ACE, CE and TM exercise at a relative workload corresponding to 50% of each individual's predetermined heart rate reserve (HRE). Post fatigue effects and postural control recovery were measured at different times after exercise (1, 3, 5, 10, 15 and 30-min). None of the participants exhibited impaired postural stability after ACE. In contrast, CE and TM elicited significant post exercise balance impairments, which lasted for ∼10 min post exercise. We provide evidence of an exercise mode which does not elicit post exercise balance impairments. Older adults should exercise caution immediately following exercise engaging the lower limbs to avoid fall risk.