How to improve muscle power at old age? Stair climbing as key exercise to detect and prevent functional disability
The ability of the muscles to generate force quickly, also referred to as power, is crucial in daily activities. Consequently, reduced muscle power has been proposed as an important predictor of age-related decline in functional performance. Optimally, functional assessments should both be applicable in clinical settings and sensitive to changes. This would enable frequent assessments and thus to initiate preventive programs in time. Stair ascent power measured via inertial measurement units, including the design of a standardized stair model, provides a promising approach for clinical applicability and is investigated in WP1. Resistance exercise is the primary therapeutic strategy to prevent functional decline, but large-scale applicability remains a challenge. Stair climbing exercises have the potential to induce similar gains and can ameliorate the cost-effectiveness and implementation potential of resistance exercise in older adults. Major concerns are potentially low adherence rates and insufficient exercise progression, eventually leading to limited effects. These concerns are addressed in WP2, where two RCT’s on stair climbing exercise will be performed. Altogether, this proposal creates the unique opportunity to detect and counteract functional decline through the use of simple field tests and by developing tailored home-based stair climbing exercise programs with potential of large-scale implementation.