Staying Active Postpones Seniors’ Loss of Mobility

Many people believe that when they retire, they can just relax and lounge all day. Research has proven that exercise can improve memory and reverse muscle loss. A new study has found that regular physical activity reduces time living with mobility-limiting disability.

The study took 1,600 sedentary people ages 70-89 years old who could walk a quarter mile under 15 minutes unassisted by another person or walker. (Canes were OK). Half of the people were put in a health education program and learned stretching exercises. The other half was encouraged to aim for 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week. This included strength, flexibility, and balance training.

After 2.7 years, the physically active group cut time of “major mobility disability” – being unable to walk a quarter mile – more than 25% compared to those in the education program. Exercise lowers the risk of becoming disabled in the first place. Those who exercised also recovered faster from episodes of disability and reduced the risk of future episodes. People who are physically active have less risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancers, depression, cognitive impairment, and functional decline.

The government recommendations apply to all adults, even older ones. This time is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75-minutes of high-intensity exercise per week, plus two strength sessions. According to the CDC, only 28% of Americans over age 75 meet the recommendation for aerobic activity, and only 8% did strength training.

Older adults need to realize that exercise can improve their quality of life – more physical activity than exercise. Just staying active is the key. Some of the people in the study were able to get rid of their canes after six months of exercise. Prescribing exercise is just as important as prescribing medications for the elderly.
Hobson, Katherine. “Walking Fends Off Loss Of Mobility, And It’s Not Too Late To Start.” Health Shots. NPR, 26 Sep 2016. Web. 27 Sep 2016.

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