Compared with a health education program, a structured, moderate-intensity physical activity program reduced major mobility disability among older adults at risk for disability, according to recently published study results.
“The very purpose of the study is to provide definitive evidence that physical activity can truly improve the independence of older adults,” Marco Pahor, MD, director of the University of Florida’s Institute on Aging, stated in a press release.
Researchers randomly assigned 1,635 sedentary men and women aged 70 years to 89 years who had physical limitations to either a structured, moderate-intensity physical activity program conducted in a center and at home or to a health education program. The physical activity program included aerobic, resistance and flexibility training activities, while the health education program consisted of workshops on topics relevant to older adults and upper extremity stretching exercises. Primary outcome included major mobility disability objectively defined by loss of ability to walk 400 m.
According to study results, 30.1% of participants in the physical activity group experienced incident major mobility disability vs. 35.5% of the health education group. Researchers also found 14.7% of participants in the physical activity group experienced persistent mobility disability, compared with 19.8% of participants in the health education group. Participants in the physical activity group were more likely to report serious adverse events, which researchers attributed to more frequent contact with research staff.
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