Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Kinesiology and Sport Sciences (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Joseph F. Signorile

Second Committee Member

Arlette Perry

Third Committee Member

Wesley Smith

Fourth Committee Member

Bernard A. Roos


With aging there is a decrease in a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL) which may be most effectively addressed using training patterns that are biomechanically similar to ADL. Since aquatic exercise offers the opportunity to provide resistance with a high level of safety, the pool may afford the ideal environment for ADL-specific training in an aging population. Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to compare a traditional aquatic exercise program (TRAD) to an aquatic program tailored to target ADL (ADLspec). Methods: Eighteen independently living individuals (68.7 + 7.5 years) were randomly assigned to a TRAD or ADLspec aquatic exercise group. The exercise groups attended 1 hr exercise sessions, 2 times per week for 8 weeks. ADL ability was assessed using the short version of the Continuous-Scale Physical Functional Performance Test (PFP-10); while strength and power were assessed using the 30s arm curl and 30 sec. chair stand tests. Results: Mixed design ANOVAs revealed a significant group x time interaction for floor sweep time with the ADLspec group outperforming the TRAD and control (CON) groups (p = .043). Additionally, the ADLspec group improved the pan weight and scarf time components of the PFP-10 (p < .020), while the TRAD group improved pan time and laundry time (p < .046). Both training groups showed similar improvements for jacket time, grocery weight, and 6-min walk, (p < .046). The ADLspec and TRAD groups also made similar improvements in upper and lower body strength, as well as lower body power across time, (p < .043). A student’s t-test revealed the TRAD group spent more time exercising during the hour session than the ADLspec group (p < .05). Conclusion: The results indicate that performing an ADLspec aquatic exercise program can increase performance of ADL that require more complex sequential movements; however, ADL more dependent on fitness may be better addressed using a TRAD intervention. These results can be helpful when designing a periodized aquatic training program to increase independence in older persons.


elderly; activities of daily living; aquatic; exercise; biomechanical specificity