Structured Exercise Program May Enhance Seniors' Physical Functioning
A structured exercise program may boost the physical well-being of otherwise sedentary seniors who are at risk of losing independent functioning.
Schmalfeldt: A structured exercise program may boost the physical well-being of otherwise sedentary seniors who are at risk of losing independent functioning. That's the result of a study funded by the National Institute on Aging. The study also showed that this program holds promise for lowering older people's chances of major walking disability and that older adults can safely begin a program of moderate exercise. As seems to be true with so many things as we get older, is this a case of "use it or lose it?"
Guralnik : Oh, absolutely! We have known for quite awhile that older people, over time, will lose certain abilities — such as strength and balance — if you don't use those things. If you're not physically active they will decline more quickly.
Schmalfeldt: That was Doctor Jack M. Guralnik, Acting Chief, Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography and Biometry, at the NIA. He talked about the results of the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders program — also known as LIFE.
Guralnik : What we learned is that in this population, number one, is that they could follow this program and the compliance with the program was quite high. Number two, we learned that the program was safe for them, that these people can do this combined program of aerobic activity, strength training, balance and flexibility training, and have no adverse consequences. And then, finally, we learned that even though these people have some functional limitations, that if they adhere to the program, they have improvements in several areas of functioning related to walking.
Schmalfeldt: Participants were invited to join the study if they exercised for fewer than 20 minutes a week, were between 70 and 89 years old, and had a low physical performance battery score based on three assessments — walking speed, balance, and the ability to rise from a chair. At six and twelve months into the study, scientists found that average physical performance scores for the exercise group were significantly better than those of the control group. The study results were published in the November 2006 edition of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Jack M. Guralnik
Topic: Aging and Exercise