gms | German Medical Science

Physical activity and successful aging
10th International EGREPA Conference

European Group for Research into Elderly and Physical Activity

14.09. - 16.09.2006 in Köln

It's all in the surface - the benefits of sandwalking for improving strength and physical fitness in the elderly

Meeting Abstract

  • corresponding author R. Braham - The University of Western Australia, Australia
  • B. Dawson - The University of Western Australia, Australia
  • H. Pinnington - The University of Western Australia, Australia
  • J. Alderson - The University of Western Australia, Australia

Physical activity and successful aging. Xth International EGREPA Conference. Cologne, 14.-16.09.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. Doc06pasa065

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: December 18, 2006

© 2006 Braham et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.




Falls and physical inactivity among older adults is a significant public health burden, with reduced lower limb muscle strength being attributed to a higher risk of falling. Soft sand walking potentially offers many benefits for reducing the risk of falls, as it offers the potential for greater improvement in lower limb muscle strength as well as improvements in fitness due to its higher energy cost. This study will examine the benefits of soft sand compared to firm surface walking on improving lower limb muscle strength and physical fitness in older females.


Forty healthy, relatively inactive (not more than 2 times per week), women, were randomly allocated to either soft sand or firm surface walking groups. Groups walked 3 times per week and progressed from a 25minute self paced walk to a 40 minute walk throughout the 8 week intervention. Pre and post measure were taken for fitness (submaximal VO2) and lower limb muscle strength (hip and knee). Blood was also taken and analysed for blood glucose and cholesterol levels.


Pilot study results showed the sand walking group with a significantly (p>0.003) greater overall gain in lower limb muscle strength compared with the firm surface group. Lower limb muscle strength improved on average by 12.9% in subjects who walked on sand while the firm ground walkers showed no improvements.


This extended study with a larger sample size is currently being conducted with the results being available in June.