There are any number of studies to demonstrate that older people are more sedentary than they can be or should be, and that this lack of physical activity has a meaningful negative impact on health and mortality risk. In this example, researchers report on the improved functional status observed in a study population as a result of lifestyle interventions such as structured exercise programs.
We happen to be fortunate enough to live in an era of comparative comfort and indolence, enabled by progress in technology. It is up to the individual as to whether or not to accept the incidental harms along with the considerable benefits of progress. Being sedentary is a choice for the vast majority of those who live that lifestyle.
The socioeconomic and health consequences of our ageing population are well documented, with older adults living in long-term care facilities amongst the frailest possessing specific and significant healthcare and social care needs. These needs may be exacerbated through the sedentary behaviour which is prevalent within care home settings. Reducing sedentary time can reduce the risk of many diseases and improve functional health, implying that improvements in health may be gained by simply helping older adults substitute time spent sitting with time spent standing or in light-intensity ambulation.
This study identified the impact of 1 year of lifestyle intervention in a group of older adults living in a long-term care setting in Italy. One hundred and eleven older adults (mean age, 82.37 years) participated in the study. Sixty-nine older adults were in the intervention group (35 without severe cognitive decline and 34 with dementia) and 42 older adults were in the control group. Data on physical functioning, basic activities of daily living (BADL) and mood were collected 4 times, before, during (every four months) and after the 1 year of intervention. The lifestyle intervention focused on improving the amount of time spent every week in active behaviour and physical activity (minimum 150 min of weekly activities).
All participants completed the training program and no adverse events, related to the program, occurred. The intervention group showed steady and significant improvements in physical functioning and a stable situation in BADL and mood following the intervention in older adults with and without dementia, whilst the control group exhibited a significant decline over time. These results suggest that engagement in a physical activity intervention may benefit care home residents with and without dementia both physically and mentally, leading to improved social care and a reduced burden on healthcare services.
Source: Fight Aging!