Stepping exercise can be used as a scalable form of high intensity exercise to enhance important aspects of physical fitness in older populations. The addition of supplementary weights increases the resistive element of stepping, with the potential for training improvements in muscular strength, power, and functional abilities alongside other fitness outcomes. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of a low-volume, home-based weighted step exercise programme on muscular strength, power, and functional ability in previously inactive community-dwelling older women. Eleven participants, aged between 65⁻74 years, independently completed a six-week individualised and progressive step exercise training programme wearing a weighted vest. Knee extensor strength, lower limb power output, and physical function using a battery of functional tests were measured at baseline, following a 6-week control period, and again following the 6-week training programme. Following training, lower limb power output improved by 10⁻11% (p < 0.05) and was accompanied by a corresponding 9% (p < 0.01) improvement in stair climb time and 10% (p < 0.01) improvement in normalised stair climbing power, highlighting the beneficial effects of weighted stepping for transferable improvements in functional fitness. The magnitude of observed training improvements suggest that weighted step training has the potential to prolong independence and prevent age-related health conditions such as sarcopenia.
- Physical fitness