Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Kinesiology and Sport Sciences (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Joseph Signorile

Second Committee Member

Sae Yong Lee

Third Committee Member

Shihab Asfour

Fourth Committee Member

Bernard A. Roos


Declines in balance and postural control are believed to be the major neuromuscular factors that contribute to an increased risk of falling with age. Balance training has been reported to be an effective tool for increasing these parameters in older fallers, but its effectiveness in improving balance in higher-functioning, independent-living elders is uncertain. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to compare the impact of two formal balance-training interventions (Tai Chi and standardize balance exercise program [SBEP]) and an activity-promoting video game, the Wii Fit balance program. METHODS: Twenty-nine healthy, independent seniors (72.10 ± 7.80) were randomly assigned to eight weeks of Tai Chi, SBEP or Wii training twice per week. Outcome measures included four field tests, force plate postural sway (COP) and dynamic posturography (DP). Results: No significant differences between groups or across time were found in any field test. No differences were seen between groups for any COP measures. Significant differences were seen across time for the entire sample total COP area and velocity. In three of the four anterior/posterior displacement variables and both velocity variable significant differences were also seen. For the medial/lateral variables, one displacement and one velocity measure was significant. In the DP, no significant time x group interactions were seen for any variables. A significant improvement in the overall score (DMA), and in two of the three linear and angular measures were seen for the entire sample. Conclusion: The Wii Fit balance program, which can be performed at home, was as effective as Tai Chi and SBEP in improving postural control and balance dictated by the force plate postural sway and DP measures. This finding may have implications for exercise adherence since the at-home nature of the intervention eliminates many obstacles to exercise training.


exercise; Tai Chi; Wii Fit