Physical Activity Predicts Functionality in Older Adults

Those seniors remaining physically active have fewer functional limitations

FRIDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Physically active older adults experience significantly fewer functional limitations than more sedentary older adults, according to a study published online April 5 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Lisa C. Yorston, from the University of Western Sydney in Australia, and colleagues extracted and analyzed baseline data from 91,375 men and women aged 65 and older from the 45 and Up Study. Physical activity engagement was measured from the Active Australia Survey, physical function from the Medical Outcomes Study Physical Functioning, and psychological distress from the Kessler-10. Self-reported age, smoking history, education, height, and weight were measured.

The researchers found that higher levels of physical activity were significantly associated with better physical function in older adults. Participants engaging in higher levels of physical activity had progressively lower likelihoods of functional limitation (middle tertile: odds ratio [OR], 0.39; highest tertile: OR, 0.28). This relationship remained significant, but weakened slightly, when adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, smoking history, psychological distress, and educational attainment (middle tertile: adjusted OR [AOR], 0.48; highest tertile: AOR, 0.36).

"There is a significant, positive relationship between physical activity and physical function in older adults, with older adults who are more physically active being less likely to experience functional limitation than their more-sedentary counterparts," the authors write.

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