GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It's something we've all heard for years: Exercise can help keep older adults healthy. But now a study, the first of its kind, proves that physical activity can help older adults maintain their mobility and dodge physical disability.
A new University of Florida study shows daily moderate physical activity may mean the difference between seniors being able to keep up everyday activities or becoming housebound. In fact, moderate physical activity helped aging adults maintain their ability to walk at a rate 18 percent higher than older adults who did not exercise.
"The very purpose of the study is to provide definitive evidence that physical activity can truly improve the independence of older adults," said principal investigator Marco Pahor, Ph.D., director of the UF's Institute on Aging.
What's more, moderate physical activity not only helped older adults maintain mobility but also helped prevent the occurrence of long-term mobility loss. Co-principal investigator Jack Guralnik, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said there was a 28 percent reduction in people permanently losing the ability to walk easily.
"The fact that we had an even bigger impact on persistent disability is very good," said Guralnik, who also holds a faculty position at UF. "It implies that a greater percentage of the adults who had physical activity intervention recovered when they did develop mobility disability."
The results will be published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association and will be presented at 1 p.m. Tuesday (May 27) at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Orlando.
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