There are a lot of people out there who think that once they grow older they are free to relax. However, a new study suggests that physical activity, as simple as walking, helped seniors remain mobile even though they had experienced disability-inducing conditions and hadn’t moved in a long time.
A health policy specialist said that the current study goes to show that prescribing exercise may be as important as prescribing medications in individuals. According to Patricia Katz from the University of California, San Francisco, a person loses independence when he or she loses the ability to be mobile. Patricia Katz wasn’t part of the current study but she did implore that the findings need to be effectively used by physicians.
A lot of older adults end up moving back and forth between being independent and conditions that can make them become disabled, such as an operation, a broken bone, or being hospitalized due to some sort of illness. These are the conditions that require such individuals to take some time to recover in order to regain mobilization.
The current research set out to find whether or not regular physical activity was able to help older seniors remain mobile for a longer period of time even if they experience other health-related conditions.
For the purpose of this study, more than 1,600 adults participated. All of them were aged between 70 and 89 years old. They were also considered as high risk for disability due to the fact they were sedentary and also had a range of chronic illnesses such as diabetes or some sort of a heart disease. More than two in five participants were 80 or older. In order for the individuals to be part of the research, they had to be able to take 15 minutes to cover a distance of a quarter of a mile by walking.
Dr. Thomas Gill, a geriatrician at Yale University and the lead author of this study, said that they were targeting people who had the potential of gaining the most. Seniors that were assigned to a regular walking program, along with a bit of balance and strength exercise, were compared to a control group that was given health education.
The current study was reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The results showed that over the course of three years, a reduction of 25% in the time spent being immobile due to a problem was seen in seniors. The seniors who walked were more likely to not experience a condition that would take away their mobility. They also had increased chances of recovering from a mobility-reducing condition as well as lower the chances of suffering from a similar condition again. The goal of the study was to get seniors to start walking as soon as possible after experiencing a major disabling condition.
According to statistics only 50% of the U.S. adults (belonging to all ages) receive the recommended dose of physical activity. As an individual grows older they are more hesitant to start exercising due to a lot of reasons. They might have arthritis, they might not know if exercising would be good because of some other medical ailment they face, or they fear that they might fall.
The researchers of the study note that they know they can’t expect seniors to start speed-walking. However, just a few minutes of walking each day can help them a lot. Daily walking can actually aid in reducing the risk of falling and getting injured.