Multimodal Training Intervention: an Approach to Successful Ageing – Iceland


Multimodal training interventions (6-MTI) are of special interest for older individuals, because of their high rate of disability, functional dependence and use of healthcare resources. The aim of this research study was to examine the effects of a 6-month multimodal training intervention (6-MTI), nutrition and health counselling on different variables, such as on functional fitness (FF), body composition (BC) and cardio metabolic risk factors (CMRF). The main aim was also to evaluate at 6- and 12-month follow-ups the effects and sustainability of a 6-MTI and additionally, to evaluate whether the applied 6-MTI design and methodology could form a sustainable strategy for developing and maintaining the health of older age groups with regard to international recommendations. The participants were healthy older individuals, 71–90 years old, selected from the population-based Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility – (AGES) Reykjavik Study that had been screened depending on their health and physical performance. The intervention consisted of a 6-month multimodal training with an emphasis on daily endurance training (ET) and twice-a-week resistance training (RT). This was supported by three lectures on nutrition and four on health-related topics. The ET consisted of daily walking over the intervention phase. The duration of the training session increased progressively through the 6-month training period. During the first week, the participants trained for 20 minutes at each session, and then the duration was increased systematically over the training period. The average duration per day was estimated at around 30 minutes. In the first and last eight weeks, a health instructor was on site twice a week, but in weeks 9–18, only once a week. The training took place outdoors on a 400-meter running track, except for four weeks during the winter period when the training was indoors. Other endurance training sessions were self-administered with participants following a training plan from the program. The RT took place twice-a-week in a fitness centre. It was individualized and always under the guidance of health instructors. The RT consisted of 12 exercises for all major muscle groups. The exercises for the lower body included leg press, leg extensions and calf raises. Exercises for the upper body included bench press, chest cross, shoulder press, pull downs, biceps curls, triceps extensions, and exercises for abdominal muscles and the back. The focus was on strength-endurance training for the first 3 months but for the latter 3 months it was on strength-power. The participants received 7 lectures, 3 on nutrition and 4 on healthy ageing, endurance, strength, and how to train. An improvement after the 6-MTI was seen in the strength tests for hand and thigh and also in the 6MW endurance test. The positive changes were maintained in the endurance test at 6 and 12 months follow-up but the strength went back to baseline. Changes in body composition, such as weight, BMI and fat-mass were for the better at the end of the 6-MTI. Several of the findings though highlighted the need for longer term programs. The results of the research have been well received and caught the attention of both national and local authorities who are exploring the possibility of implementation.


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(last accessed in March 2017)

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Life Cycle Stages: Older People (>65 yrs) | Seniors (>75 yrs) | 
Main Settings: community | 
Specific Topics: physical activity | 

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