Effects of supervised high-intensity hardstyle kettlebell training on grip strength and health-related physical fitness in insufficiently active older adults: the BELL pragmatic controlled trial

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Abstract

The Ballistic Exercise of the Lower Limb (BELL) trial examined the efficacy and safety of a pragmatic hardstyle kettlebell training program in older adults. Insufficiently active men and women aged 59–79 years, were recruited to a 6-month repeated measures study, involving 3-months usual activity and 3-months progressive hardstyle kettlebell training. Health-related physical fitness outcomes included: grip strength [GS], 6-min walk distance [6MWD], resting heart rate [HR], stair-climb [SC], leg extensor strength [LES], hip extensor strength [HES], Sit-To-Stand [STS], vertical jump [CMVJ], five-times floor transfer [5xFT], 1RM deadlift, body composition (DXA), attendance, and adverse events. Sixteen males (68.8 ± 4.6 yrs, 176.2 ± 7.8 cm, 90.7 ± 11.0 kg, 29.2 ± 2.6 kg/m2) and sixteen females (68.6 ± 4.7 yrs, 163.9 ± 5.4 cm, 70.4 ± 12.7 kg, 26.3 ± 4.9 kg/m2) were recruited. Compliance with the supervised exercise program was very high (91.5%). Kettlebell training increased GS (R: MD = 7.1 kg 95% CI [4.9, 9.3], L: MD = 6.3 kg 95% CI [4.1, 8.4]), 6MWD (41.7 m, 95% CI [17.9, 65.5]), 1RM (16.2 kg, 95% CI [2.4, 30.0]), 30 s STS (3.3 reps, 95% CI [0.9, 5.7]), LES (R: MD = 61.6 N, 95% CI [4.4, 118.8]), HES (L: MD = 21.0 N,95% CI [4.2,37.8]), appendicular skeletal lean mass (MD = 0.65 kg, 95% CI [0.08, 1.22]), self-reported health change (17.1%, 95% CI [4.4, 29.8]) and decreased SC time (2.7 s, 95% CI [0.2, 5.2]), 5xFT time (6.0 s, 95% CI [2.2, 9.8]) and resting HR (7.4 bpm, 95% CI [0.7, 14.1]). There were four non-serious adverse events. Mean individual training load for group training sessions during the trial was 100,977 ± 9,050 kg. High-intensity hardstyle kettlebell training was well tolerated and improved grip strength and measures of health-related physical fitness in insufficiently active older adults. Trial registration: Prospectively registered: 20/08/2019, Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12619001177145).

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Meigh, N. J., Keogh, J. W. L., Schram, B., Hing, W., & Rathbone, E. N. (2022). Effects of supervised high-intensity hardstyle kettlebell training on grip strength and health-related physical fitness in insufficiently active older adults: the BELL pragmatic controlled trial. BMC Geriatrics, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-022-02958-z

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