A study published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (2005; 53 [1], 2) found that functional exercise was more effective than resistance exercise for improving daily task performance.

The subjects—98 healthy women, all aged 70 or older—lived in a “community leisure center” in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Researchers randomly divided the women into three groups: a functional task group, a resistance exercise group and a control group. They attended exercise classes three times a week for 12 weeks. Several measurements were taken at baseline, at the end of training, and 6 months after the end of training.

At the end of training, total score on the Assessment of Daily Activity Performance test had “increased significantly more” for the function group than for the other two groups. Moreover, the function group sustained its improvement during the 6-month follow-up. Researchers concluded that functional task exercises “may have an important role in helping [healthy elderly women] maintain an independent lifestyle.”