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Effectiveness of outdoor exercise equipment in older people: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Introduction and Aims: Participation rates in physical activity are low amongst older people and declines with increasing age. Outdoor exercise equipment (OEE) installed strategically in parks can enhance older people’s access to physical activity options. To date, no systematic review has investigated the usage of OEE and health outcomes associated with their use by older people. This systematic review aims to review the effectiveness of OEE on health outcomes, and their usage by older people.
Methods: Seven databases were searched (to January 2020). Eligibility criteria included: People aged ≥60 years (≥50% of the sample population); interventions delivered using OEE to increase physical function; comparison groups for randomised and non-randomised controlled trials; outcome: qualitative and quantitative evaluation of OEE. The titles and abstracts were scanned by the first reviewer and full article screening was completed independently by two reviewers. Results of all articles were summarised and randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were analysed by meta-analysis.
Results: Nine studies met the inclusion criteria. The meta-analysis results were not statistically significant for the 30 second chair stand test (MD [95% CI]=1.05 [-0.42 to 2.53]) and single-leg stance (MD [95% CI]=8.52 [-8.88 to 25.93]). The single leg stance test results need to be interpreted with caution due to the high heterogeneity. Common cited benefits by older people for using OEE were improvements to health and social interaction.
Conclusion: Older adults use OEE while performing other activities at the park. Future research should include larger sample sizes, similar OEE and outcome measures evaluating intensity levels of physical activity.