As people age, walking frequently becomes more difficult for older adults; this is a common and costly problem. Individuals who have difficulty walking are at risk for losing their independence. One way to slow or prevent this decline in walking is through exercise. There are many community-based exercise programs in which older adults can participate. Few of these programs, though, focus specifically on the timing and coordination of movement in walking.
On the Move: Group Exercise for Improved Mobility in Older Adults® (OTM) is a group-based exercise program for older adults designed to target the timing and coordination of walking. The program challenges the brain to match the timing and sequences of your movements with your posture to improve the smoothness and efficiency of walking. To achieve this ‘better walking’, OTM has a variety of progressive stepping and walking patterns. When compared to a seated strength, endurance, and flexibility exercise program for walking, OTM resulted in greater improvements in mobility.
The 12-week OTM program meets twice a week for 50 to 60 minutes per session. It’s delivered by a trained exercise leader. OTM has a warm-up period, strength training exercises, stepping and walking patterns, and a cool-down period. The unique stepping and walking patterns in OTM are goal-oriented and progressive. This timing and coordination approach to improve walking is based on principles of the development of motor skills. As a motor-control based program to improve walking, there is a heavy emphasis placed on high repetition of accurate exercise activities. Music, props such as cones and balls, and partner-based activities keep our classes interesting.