Abstract

Seven recent experimental and quasi-experimental studies have compared the exercise of subjects instructed to pursue some added goal (often termed purposeful activity) with the exercise of subjects instructed to exercise without the suggestion of an added goal (often termed nonpurposeful activity). This article suggests a new terminology for this type of independent variable and describes an experiment within this developing tradition. An occupational form designed, through materials and instructions, to elicit a rotary arm exercise with the added purpose of stirring cookie dough was compared with an occupational form designed to elicit the rotary arm exercise with no added purpose. The subjects were 30 elderly female nursing home residents randomly assigned to the occupational forms. Results indicated that the added-purpose, occupationally embedded exercise condition elicited significantly more exercise repetitions than did the rote exercise condition (one-tailed p = .012). Exercise duration and exercise stoppages were also recorded. This study provides additional support for the traditional occupational therapy idea of embedding exercise within occupation. Suggestions are made for future research involving the experimental analysis of therapeutic occupation.

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