Balance and functional strength training can improve muscle strength and physical functioning outcomes and decrease the risk of falls in older adults. To maximize the benefits of strength training, adequate protein intake is also important. However, the number of older individuals that consume enough protein or routinely engage in strength training remains low at less than 5% and even lower for activities that challenge balance. Our primary aim was to assess the feasibility of implementing a model (MoveStrong) of service delivery to teach older adults about balance and functional strength training and methods to increase protein intake.
This study was a closed cohort stepped wedge randomized controlled trial. We recruited individuals ≥60 years considered pre-frail or frail with at least one chronic condition who were not currently engaging in regular strength training from Northern (rural) and Southern (urban) Ontario sites in Canada. The primary outcome was feasibility of implementation, defined by recruitment, retention, and adherence, and safety (defined by monitoring adverse events). We also reported participants’ and providers’ experience with MoveStrong, adaptations to the model based on participant’s and provider’s experience, and program fidelity.
We recruited 44 participants to the study and the average adherence rate was 72% with a retention of 71%. The program had a high-fidelity score. One person experienced a fall-related injury during exercise, while two other participants reported pain during certain activities. Five individuals experienced injuries or health problems that were not related to the program. Suggestions for future trials include modifying some exercises, exploring volunteer assistance, increasing the diversity of participants enrolled, and considering a different study design.
Our pilot trial demonstrates the feasibility of recruitment and adherence for a larger multisite RCT of balance and functional strength training with attention to protein intake in pre-frail and frail older adults.