Small increases in physical activity reduce immobility, disability risks in older adults

BOSTON (Sept. 11, 2017)—Adding 48 minutes of moderate exercise per week is associated with improvements in overall physical functioning and decreases in risks of immobility in older adults who are sedentary, finds a new study led by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University.

In the study, published in PLOS ONE on Aug. 18, the researchers evaluated how different doses of exercise for adults age 70-89 would impact the benefits. While the researchers saw improvements in all participants who added some physical activity to their routine, those who got more exercise saw greater changes. The work is part of the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) study.   

“These are people who want to live healthy, independent lives and are at risk for losing that. Maintaining functional independence for older adults is an important public health issue. In our first LIFE study, we confirmed that regular exercise can help improve physical function and prevent mobility loss. Now we see that small increases can have big impacts,” said first and corresponding author Roger A. Fielding, senior scientist and director of the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA.

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