Older people are doing increasingly less physical exercise
A study led by the University of Jaén reveals that people over 65 are not getting enough exercise. Experts emphasize the importance of preserving physical performance to prevent the negative consequences of aging.
Physical exercise among the elderly prevents or delays alterations associated with aging, thereby preventing disability and loss of function. However, those over 65 do not get enough physical exercise.
This is the conclusion of the study, which confirms that the population over 65 years of age is becoming increasingly less physically active. The researchers analysed the exercise, functional limitations, excess weight and obesity, self-perceived health status and chronic health problems within that population segment.
The experts used the data of 12,546 people, divided into three groups of ages 65-74, 75-84, and older than 85 from the European Health Survey in Spain (EHSS), conducted in 2009 and in 2014.
The results, published in the European Journal of Public Health, indicate that participants in 2014 showed worse values as regards moderate physical activity and self-perceived health status than in 2009.
"From 2009 to 2014, the physical activity levels of Spanish elderly people have decreased, while the body mass index has not increased," explains Pedro Ángel Latorre Román to Sinc. This fact is consistent with a worsened perception of the state of health in 2014 and with an increase in disease levels.
In 2014, the percentage of people with illnesses or chronic health problems was higher than in 2009, as was the percentage of elderly people with serious difficulties walking 500 meters without help and extreme limitations for climbing or descending 12-step stairways.
Román says, "These data highlight the importance of incorporating physical exercise programmes at an early stage of aging to preserve physical performance and prevent the negative consequences of aging."
Preventing the consequences of aging
Western Europe has one of the world´s oldest populations. In Spain, life expectancy is of 78.9 years for men and 84.9 years for women. Given that aging has been associated with frailty and functional limitation, the promotion of regular physical activity is one of the main non-pharmaceutical measures proposed for the elderly.
In fact, numerous studies have shown that moderate exercise among elderly persons reduces mortality, decreases the risk of dementia, has a positive effect on the prevention of coronary diseases, reduces blood pressure, prevents strokes, type 2 diabetes and falls, and improves the quality of life.
More information: Pedro A Latorre-Román et al. Physical activity, weight and functional limitations in elderly Spanish people: the National Health Survey (2009–2014), European Journal of Public Health (2017). DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckx219