Date of Award

5-2009

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Kinesiology and Physical Education

Advisor

Nellie Cyr

Second Committee Member

Phillip A. Pratt

Third Committee Member

Robert Wood

Abstract

It has been established that aging is associated with a decline in physical capacity, and that this decline affects the ability to perform activities of daily living necessary for independent living. Much of the research on age-related physical decline has centered on muscular strength, muscular endurance, and cardiorespiratory capacity. Flexibility has been less frequently examined; particularly the relationship between flexibility and older adults' ability to perform activities of daily living. The current study was conducted to examine this relationship. The study used a correlational design to collect and analyze data from a convenience sample of community-dwelling adults recruited from senior fitness classes and community centers. Twenty nine women and three men aged 65 and older participated in the study. Six flexibility measurements were taken, and the values correlated with responses to the Late Life Function and Disability Inventory (LLFDI). Two flexibility measures were significantly (P<.05) associated with ADL ability: plantarflexion and the back scratch (a multiplanar shoulder assessment). Regression to control for the effects of age found that the contribution of plantarflexion to lower-body specific ADL ability was 2.65 times greater than that of age (P<.078). Plantarflexion contributed almost four times more than age to one (personal care) aspect of ADL ability (P<.045). For skills beyond basic self care (instrumental ADLS), age contributed 0.74 times more than shoulder flexibility (as measured by the back scratch) at P<.009. Age was significantly negatively associated (P<.05) with all LLFDI disability scores. Age was negatively associated with five of the six flexibility measures: sit and reach, dorsiflexion, plantarflexion, knee extension, and back scratch, though not significantly. To improve statistical strength, future research using the LLFDI (an instrument which yields ten discrete variables) should include a much larger sample size, preferably at least 100 subjects. Subjects should also possess a wide range of physical fitness to broaden the range of the data and make trends more discernable.

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