“The best exercise you can do if you only have 30 seconds each day is to learn and practice diaphragmatic breathing,” explains Carla Chickedantz, a personal trainer with Crunch gyms. “Diaphragmatic breathing is the most basic, original strength building technique that each and every human uses to build core strength as a newborn baby. As adults, we lose this skill and rely on auxiliary muscles in the chest, shoulders, and neck for respiration. This causes all sorts of problems. During our workouts, we often focus on the front, back and sides of the core, and neglect the top and bottom. Yes, the core is like a canister with the diaphragm at the top and pelvic floor at the bottom.”
Hessel J [Internet]. Joseph H. Pilates biography. 2015 Jul 8 [cited 2015 Aug 30]. Available from: http://www.jillianhessel.com/pilates_biography.html. He claimed that ‘sports are wonderful … but of little value for correcting whats wrong with you … corrective exercise is the only way to build a beautiful, strong, youthful body.’44 Readers Digest [Internet]. Ray MB. Cutting a fine figure (1934). 2012 Dec 13 [cited 2015 Aug 30]. Available from: http://www.isofit.com.hk/assets/files/193410_Readers_Digest_Joe_Pilates_Interview.pdf. [Google Scholar] He explained in his 1939 book ‘Your Health’: ‘Practically all human ailments are directly traceable to wrong habits which can only be corrected through the immediate adoption of right (natural, normal) habits’ … ‘the present day efforts of our so-called health departments are in vain so far as physical health is concerned’ … ‘this condition will prevail until such time as marks the recognition of a standard formation of sound and sane physical culture, based upon the natural laws of life.’45 Pilates J. Your health. Nevada: Presentation Dynamics; 1934. [Google Scholar] In his 1945 book ‘Return to Life Through Contrology,’ Pilates clearly supported Checkley, Müller, and Alexander stating that ‘Contrology is not a system of haphazard exercises designed to produce only bulging muscles’ … ‘Rather, it was conceived to limber and stretch muscles and ligaments so that your body will be as supple as that of a cat and not muscular like the body of a brewery-truck horse.’46 Pilates J, Miller WJ. Return to life through Contrology. Nevada: Presentation Dynamics; 1945. [Google Scholar] In this book, Pilates presented a list of 34 full-body equipment-free exercises, which if performed regularly at home, were promised to ‘give you suppleness, natural grace, and skill that will be unmistakably reflected in the way you walk, in the way you play, and in the way you work’ … ‘You will find your body development approaching the ideal, accompanied by renewed mental vigor and spiritual enhancement’. Pilates famously stated: ‘Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.’46 Pilates J, Miller WJ. Return to life through Contrology. Nevada: Presentation Dynamics; 1945. [Google Scholar] As with Müller,15 Müller JP. My system. London: Link House; 1904. [Google Scholar] Randell,25,26 Randell M. Training for childbirth from a mother's point of view. 4th ed. London: J. & A. Churchill Ltd.; 1949.
Exercise tests were performed on a cycle ergometer (Lode Excalibur Sport, Groningen, The Netherlands) or on a treadmill (Ergo ELG 55; Woodway, Weil am Rhein, Germany) depending on the sport. Tests on the cycle ergometer started with an initial workload of 80 W (subjects 6 and 7) or 30 W (subjects 4 and 9), the workload was increased by 40 W every 3 min. Tests on the treadmill started at 5.4 km h−1, the speed was increased with 1.8 km h−1 each 3 min (subjects 1, 2, 3, 8 and 10). One subject performed the treadmill test with an inclination of 1% (subject 5). The duration of each test was recorded in seconds. Subjects wore a heart rate monitor (Polar Accurex Plus, Kempele, Finland) for determination of maximal heart rate (HRmax) throughout the exercise tests. After each exercise test, 20 μl of blood was drawn from the right earlobe to determine maximal blood lactate concentration ([La]max) with enzymatic analysis (EKF; Biosen 5030, Barleben, Germany).
The aim of this study was to assess the effects of vigorous exercise on functional abilities by means of a Senior Fitness Test (SFT) in a group of elderly adults. Twenty healthy and inactive people performed vigorous exercise (VE: 12 men and 8 women, aged 69.6 ± 3.9 years). At the beginning of the study (T0) and after 3 months (T1), each subject's functional ability was tested for muscular strength, agility, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and balance. The VE was designed with continuous and interval exercise involving large muscle activities. Functional exercises were performed between 60% and 84% of heart rate reserve (HRR) for a duration of 65 minutes. Five out of the 6 SFTs performed were found significantly improved: Chair Stand (T0 12.4 ± 2.4, T1 13.5 ± 2.6, p < 0.01), Arm Curl (T0 14.2 ± 3.6, T1 16.6 ± 3.6, p < 0.01), 2 min step (T0 98.2 ± 15.7, T1 108.9 ± 16.2, p < 0.01), Chair Sit-and-Reach (T0 −9.9 ± 7.7 cm, T1 1.7 ± 6.3 cm, p < 0.01), and Back Scratch (T0 −15.8 ± 10.9 cm, T1 −8.4 ± 13.1 cm, p < 0.01). Our results suggest that a high intensity protocol and functional exercises can improve functional mobility and muscle endurance in those over 65 years of age. SFTs are an effective method for assessing improvements in the functional capacity of elderly adults.