Maintaining mobility in older adults can be as easy as a walk in the park

May 27, 2014

With just a daily 20-minute walk, older adults can help stave off major disability and enhance the quality of their later years, according to results of the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) Study, conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine in collaboration with seven other institutions around the country. The study is published in the May 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Mobility, the ability to walk without assistance, is key to functioning independently. Reduced mobility is common in older adults and is a risk factor for illness, hospitalization, disability, and death.

The LIFE study is the largest randomized controlled trial ever conducted on physical activity and health education in older adults. Coordinated at the University of Florida, Gainesville, the study enrolled 1,635 sedentary men and women aged 70 to 89 who led and were at risk of mobility disability. Participants were recruited from urban suburban, and rural communities around the country, and randomly assigned to either a structured, moderate-intensity physical activity program, or to a program focused on topics related to successful aging. The trial examined whether physical activity prevents or delays mobility disability.

After more than two years of follow-up, the multicenter team found that the risk of major was reduced by 18% among participants in the group, meaning that they were more capable of walking without assistance for about a quarter mile.

"We want to change how people live," said the director of the Yale field center, Thomas Gill, M.D., the Humana Foundation Professor of Geriatric Medicine, who chaired the measurement committee, which was responsible for determining the main study outcomes. "Maintaining independence for is both a public health and a clinical priority, and modifying lifestyle is an important approach to maintaining independence."

Gill added, "Years from now, LIFE will be considered a landmark study, one that has informed policies to keep older persons independent in the community."

Explore further: No walk in the park: Factors that predict walking difficulty in elderly

More information: Paper: JAMA DOI: 10.1001/jama.2014.5616

Related Stories

No walk in the park: Factors that predict walking difficulty in elderly

January 16, 2012
Yale School of Medicine researchers have found that the likelihood of becoming disabled with age increases with the following factors: having a chronic condition or cognitive impairment; low physical activity; slower gross ...

Becoming disabled may up risk of developing diabetes

February 28, 2014
(HealthDay)—Functional decline and physical disability may increase the subsequent risk of diabetes in older adults, according to research published online Feb. 18 in Diabetes Care.

Genes may thwart seniors' exercise gains

March 14, 2014
Keeping strong and physically fit is crucial to maintaining independence among the elderly. Exercise has repeatedly been shown to reduce or slow age-related declines in physical function and is a widely recommended for seniors, ...

Regardless of exercise, too much sedentary time is linked to major disability after 60

February 19, 2014
If you're 60 and older, every additional hour a day you spend sitting is linked to doubling the risk of being disabled—regardless of how much moderate exercise you get, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

Recommended for you

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

Experts devise plan to slash unnecessary medical testing

October 17, 2017
Researchers at top hospitals in the U.S. and Canada have developed an ambitious plan to eliminate unnecessary medical testing, with the goal of reducing medical bills while improving patient outcomes, safety and satisfaction.

New study: Nearly half of US medical care comes from emergency rooms

October 17, 2017
Nearly half of all US medical care is delivered by emergency departments, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). And in recent years, the percentage of care delivered ...

No evidence that widely marketed technique to treat leaky bladder/prolapse works

October 16, 2017
There is no scientific evidence that a workout widely marketed to manage the symptoms of a leaky bladder and/or womb prolapse actually works, conclude experts in an editorial published online in the British Journal of Sports ...

Ten pence restaurant chain levy on sugary drinks linked to fall in sales

October 16, 2017
The introduction of a 10 pence levy on sugar sweetened drinks across the 'Jamie's Italian' chain of restaurants in the UK was associated with a relatively large fall in sales of these beverages of between 9 and 11 per cent, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.