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Regular Physical Activity May Reduce Mobility Loss Risk

Previous research has found that physical inactivity is the strongest predictor of loss of mobility in aging. A new study suggests that participating in an individualized physical activity intervention may help reduce the risk of major mobility disability.

Participants in the study included 1,325 adults with an average age of 80 who took part in the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders study. All had low to active levels of physical activity at baseline and were at risk for major mobility disability. Half the participants took part in a physical activity intervention that for an average of 2.5 years consisted of 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity and brief balance, flexibility and lower body strengthening exercises. The other half received health education with no exercise.

The researchers found that participants in the physical activity group with higher initial function saw increases in their Short Physical Performance Battery scores when they increased their amount of light physical activity. For this group, more light physical activity that was distributed throughout the day was associated with a reduction in risk for major mobility disability

Participants in the physical activity group with lower initial function saw increases in their Short Physical Performance Battery scores when they focused intitially on building strength and balance. Once strength and balance were developed, they then focused on moderate to vigorous physical activity that was distributed throughout the day.

The study was conducted by researchers from Wake Forest University. It was published online ahead of print on March 20, 2020 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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