Background: Many studies have sought to assess the effects of physical exercise on older people, but there is little scientific evidence concerning its effects on subjects’ quality of life and cognitive function. Besides, there is a need to know how well the elderly can tolerate combined exercise programs of great intensity and frequency, without risking their health. Objectives: To determine whether older people are able to do a high-intensity combined program of physical exercise, and to analyze its effects at a conditional, cognitive and functional level as well as on their quality of life. Methods: Sixty-two community-dwelling women older than 65 took part in a randomized trial, with subjects assigned to a combined program of aquatic exercise plus high-intensity strength training (group 1), or plus calisthenic training (group 2). Group 2 training consisted of several aerobic, mobility and flexibility exercises; group 1 training consisted of 7 exercises targeting the major muscle groups of the body, performed on exercise machines at an intensity of 75% of 1 repetition maximum. Both groups trained 5 days a week during 5 months. Quality of life, cognitive function, and functional level were assessed by means of validated questionnaires. Conditional evaluations included static and dynamic strength, balance, flexibility, and aerobic capacity. Results: No participant withdrew for adverse effects during the program or at the end. Both groups obtained a significant improvement in their quality of life and cognitive function, as well as in their balance and flexibility level, whereas only group 1 improved their static and dynamic strength significantly. Conclusion: Older women can take part in high-frequency, high-intensity training programs with no risk to their health while experiencing improvements to their quality of life, cognitive function, degree of independence and physical fitness.

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