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A new study called Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) by the University of Florida and the University of Maryland shows the importance of physical activity for adults in relation to their good health. It was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers evaluated 1,635 individuals with inactive lifestyles US with ages ranging from 70 to 89 from eight varying study centers across the US. The subjects were able to walk 400 meters in 15 minutes but were put at high risk of losing their mobility.

Marco Pahor, PhD, of the Institute of Aging at the University of Florida states that populations in this range are “typically understudied,” even supposing that health professionals see such patients every day.

Low physical activity in older adults can increase the risk of institutionalization, hospitalization, and death.

Participants were assigned to one of two groups at random. The first group consisting of 818 participants monitored twice a week was tasked to carry out daily moderate exercises, which involved walking 150 minutes a week and executing strength, flexibility and balance training.

The second group which included 817 individuals was subject to attending health education classes and performing stretching exercises. Each individual was assessed every six months for an average of 2.6 years.

Staff members from each study center looked at the subjects’ walking ability, pulse rate and blood pressure, and other measurements of health at each assessment, and were uninformed of what group the participants were assigned to.

Researchers arrived at the conclusion that individuals in the moderate exercise group had an 18% higher walking ability than those in the education classes group. Moderate exercise was correlated with a 28% reduction in mobility loss as determined by the ability to walk 400 meters.

Jack Guralnik, PhD, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine remarked that the purpose of conducting this study was to provide evidence affirming that physical activity can improve the physical independence of older adults.

The study shows the rate of hospitalizations in each group was higher among individuals who carried out moderate exercise although the figure was not ‘statistically significant.’

Wendy Kohrt, PhD, a professor at the University of Colorado, reviewed the study’s scientific merit before it was initiated. She stated that such research is vital in concluding lifestyle recommendations to be made for senior citizens.

She says that the LIFE trial showed that an increase in physical activity has the prospective to help older adults “maintain functional dependence.”

Among information to be deducted from the study include how physical activity impacts participants’ emotional well-being and social, physiological and biological factors.

In addition to this, the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA found that physical activity for people over the age of 65 may reduce the risk of heart attack. Other findings establish that exercise for women aged 50 and over may help reduce the risk of kidney stones.

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