Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (MS)

Degree Level



Health, Human Performance and Recreation


Michelle Gray

Committee Member

Abigail A Schmitt

Second Committee Member

Nicholas N Greene


Functional ability;Health;Mobility;Muscular Power;Older Adult;Physical Function


The population of older adults is growing rapidly worldwide. There are significant challenges associated with an aging population, many of which are related to declining physical function. Muscular power has previously been postulated as an important physical characteristic for preserving physical function, however, much of the research has measured lower body muscular power against functional outcomes. The importance of upper body muscular power (UBMP) for physical function outcomes is less clear, thus, this study sought to examine that relationship. Forty-two older adults between the ages of 50 – 70 (avg = 60.5 years  5.7) were recruited for the current study. Each participant performed a battery of physical tests to measure UBMP and functional outcomes. UBMP was assessed with a seated medicine ball throw test, and the test setup allowed for the use of the Tendo Weightlifting Analyzer to capture objective power data. Physical function was assessed using the Senior Fitness Test (SFT), a 6-test battery measuring upper/lower body strength and flexibility, aerobic endurance, and dynamic agility. The Hand Grip test was also performed as an additional measure of upper body function. Pearson’s correlations were conducted to determine the relationship between each measure of muscular power collected (throw distance, Tendo avg. power, Tendo peak power) and each measure of physical function. Of those, only the Hand Grip and Back Scratch (upper body flexibility test from SFT) showed a strong relationship with UBMP measures. Hand Grip was highly correlated with UBMP (r = .58 - .82, p < .001), while Back Scratch was moderately correlated (r = -.41 – -.49, p < .01). No other measure of physical function showed a substantial relationship to UBMP (r < .20). Additionally, forward stepwise regression analysis was conducted to determine predictors of individual physical function variables. Measures of UBMP were found to be significant unique contributors in regression models predicting Back Scratch, Sit and Reach (lower body flexibility), Arm Curl (upper body strength), 6-Minute Walk (aerobic endurance), and Hand Grip (upper body strength) performance. These results show that UBMP is clearly an important physical characteristic for upper body physical function, however, the relationship between UBMP and overall physical function is still unclear. Further research is needed to test different assessments of UBMP and physical function in a more diverse sample with regard to age and functional ability.

Included in

Kinesiology Commons