Group-based exercise interventions for community-dwelling older people in Southeast Asia: A systematic review

Janet Bong May Ing, Devinder Kaur Ajit Singh*, Maw Pin Tan, Mohammad Adam Bujang, Ing Khieng Tiong, Julie Whitney, Saravana Kumar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: Southeast Asia (SEA) is a rapidly ageing and a diversely populated region that requires strategies to maintain its populations' physical activity and sense of well-being. While the benefits of group exercise programs are known, the characteristics and types of exercises in terms of their effectiveness for physical function and fidelity of the programs have yet to be defined within this population. 

Methods: Ovid, MEDLINE, Scopus, PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database), EBSCOHOST, Cochrane library and Open Grey databases were searched to identify relevant studies. Methodological quality was assessed using the PEDro Scale and the Newcastle Ottawa Scale (NOS). Meta-analysis was undertaken when the same outcome measures were reported in a minimum of two studies with appropriate data. (PROSPERO: CRD42020177317). 

Results: Eleven studies with 900 participants were included, out of which 395 participants were allocated to group exercise programs and 383 completed the program. Culturally adapted Thai dance programs and multicomponent exercise programs were the most-commonly reported group exercises. The Timed Up and Go test (TUG) and attendance rates were the most-frequently reported outcomes. Meta-analysis demonstrated significant improvement in physical function assessed using the Timed Up and Go test (Random effect model −1.27 s, 95% CI −1.65, −0.88, I2 = 74%). In two studies, adherence (81% and 94%) and dropout rates (4% and 19%) were reported. 

Conclusions: Group-based exercise programs in Southeast Asia consisting mostly of culturally adapted Thai dance programs and multicomponent exercise programs appear to have positive effects on physical function. However, better descriptions of fidelity, including adherence, are required in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)624-637
Number of pages14
JournalAustralasian Journal on Ageing
Issue number4
Early online date19 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • aged
  • aging
  • exercise
  • independent living
  • review

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