According to a Yale University study, older adults can recuperate faster from a major disability by routinely engaging in moderate physical activities and walking regularly.
The results, found in the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) Study—a large research project—were recently published by the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The effects of walking regularly and engaging in other physical activities, including strength and balance training exercises, helped older adults between the ages 70 and 89 prevent suffering from disabilities in comparison to those who were only given a health education program.
“Our report strengthens the evidence supporting the benefit and long-term value of physical activity in promoting independent mobility among a growing population of vulnerable older persons,” said first author Dr. Thomas Gill, professor of geriatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, in a press release.
Over the course of three-and-a-half years, patients were tested for mobility disability, which is defined as not being able to walk a quarter of a mile. According to the researchers, older adults need to be able to walk this distance to engage in physical activities and secure their independence.
What This Means
The LIFE Study confirms that those in the aging population who are routinely physically active suffer 25% less disability as opposed to those who are not active. They were also able to avoid suffering from a second disability, and recovered faster.
“Interventions to promote independent mobility should focus not only on preventing the initial occurrence of disability, but also on restoring and maintaining independent mobility in older persons who become disabled,” Gill noted.
Kashef, Z., “Moderate activity helps older adults maintain mobility and independence,” YaleNews web site, September 26, 2016; http://news.yale.edu/2016/09/26/moderate-activity-helps-older-adults-maintain-mobility-and-independence