HKBU study shows that light volleyball exercises can help improve functional fitness of older adults
18 Jul 2016
A research released today by the Department of Physical Education of Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) revealed that light volleyball exercises can help older adults improve their lower extremity muscle strength and endurance, agility/balance, aerobic endurance, upper extremity muscle strength and increase their enjoyment of physical activity.
The weight of a light volleyball is about 120 grams, 100 to 150 grams lighter than a regular volleyball. A badminton court, which is significantly smaller than a volleyball court, is big enough for a game of light volleyball. Compared with a regular volleyball, a light volleyball travels slower with more moderate movement, making the sport more suitable for older adults. With heavy promotion by organisations/official departments in mainland China, light volleyball has become a popular sport, with over 50 million people taking part in it.
The research team invited 90 participants, aged over 60, and divided them into three groups: light volleyball, rouliqiu and control group and they took part in a 15-week light volleyball training scheme, rouliqiu training or carried out their normal lifestyles respectively in order to shed light on how these two exercises affect the functional fitness and psychological health of older adults and the differences between them.
The study showed that both light volleyball and rouliqiu can improve older adults’ lower extremity muscle strength and endurance, agility/balance and increase their enjoyment of physical activity. Older adults who play light volleyball showed better aerobic endurance and upper extremity muscle strength. Taking part in either exercise did not lead to significant improvement in flexibility or upper extremity muscle endurance.
Dr Carman Leung, Lecturer of the Department of Physical Education, who is responsible for executing the study, said that light volleyball and rouliqiu are great exercises to promote in society as they can improve the functional fitness of older adults, and are particularly useful for strengthening muscles to help prevent falls.
Professor Chung Pak-kwong, Head of the Department of Physical Education and project-in- charge said that functional fitness of older adults degenerates with age, and the rate at which it decreases can be slowed if older adults receive appropriate and timely exercise intervention. Not only does exercise prevent falls, ensure older adults have better self-care abilities and enjoy better physical and psychological health, it can also help the government and families save on healthcare expenses.
Professor Chung added that the percentage of older adults in Hong Kong who have a regular exercise habit is not satisfactory. Since the level of fitness required for light volleyball and the speed of the sport make it suitable for older adults, he hopes the government can put more resources to promote light volleyball, so that more healthcare and social service providers as well as older adults can know about the benefits of playing light volleyball. He also suggested cooperation with professional bodies, such as Hong Kong Light Volleyball Association so that more older adults can take part in the sport and improve their physical and psychological health.