Exercise can benefit all older people

Exercise is great for elderly people’s mobility.

A new study has found that a structured exercise program is beneficial for all older people, regardless of how frail they are.

Researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, in Boston, USA, sought out elderly participants with mobility issues.

Initially, they wanted to see if physical activity would help lower the risk of an elderly patient becoming frail.

Frailty is a strong indicator of poor health outcomes as one ages. When someone is frail, they are likely to have muscle weakness, fatigue and unintended weight loss, as well as needing help with everyday activities.

The study

Researchers identified more than 1500 elderly participants with functional limitations. They then sorted them into two group: an exercise group and a control group that participated in health educational workshops as well as stretching exercises.

The exercise group performed aerobic, resistance and flexibility activities.

The control group underwent an education program on the participants’ risk for becoming frail.

After two years, the results showed that the physical exercise did not appear to affect frailty.

However, the results also showed that physical activity improved the mobility of all the participants in the exercise group. Members of the exercise group were much better able to get up from a chair without using their arms.

The researchers concluded that physical activity can benefit all older patients — even those already frail — and should be encouraged by doctors to exercise.

That is, even elderly people who are frail can benefit from an exercise program.

This study has been published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Reference

Trombetti, A. et al. (2018.) ‘Effect of Physical Activity on Frailty: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial.’ Annals of Internal Medicine. 2018. Epub ahead of print 9 January 2018. DOI: 10.7326/M16-2011

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