A new study at the UC San Diego’s Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science has concluded that older people need to perform at least light-intensity physical activity such as a casual walk or even shopping to protect mobility. Out of women over 65, it is shown that 1 in 4 are unable to walk 2 blocks or go up a flight of stairs. This is a condition called mobility disability and can promote a person’s loss of independence as it is the leading type of incapacity in the U.S.
Researchers found that women that included light-intensity physical activity for the greatest amount of time and did not have a mobility disability at the beginning of the study had a 40 percent less chance to lose any mobility. This was over a 6-year period.
It was important to note that all physical activity, not just moderate-to-vigorous counts. Light-intensity physical activity also will maintain a women’s mobility later in life.
To perform the study, 5,735 women over 63 that lived in the U.S. and had enrolled in the Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health study, wore a research-grade accelerometer. After 7 days, accurate measures of their physical activity were obtained. The participants had spent 4.8 hours per day in light-intensity physical activity.
The results showed that 46 percent of the women that performed light-intensity physical activity had a lower risk of mobility loss. The women that had performed less than light-intensity physical exercise had more risk of mobility loss. The women that had a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or below showed the strongest benefit. But women that were obese also showed reduction of mobility disability.
As we age, it becomes harder and harder to perform moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Therefore, these findings may have major impacts on recommendations for public health. Focus on light-intensity physical activity would be of more importance to healthy aging of older women. This would help older women maintain their mobility and independence.
Older people that have a mobility disability have been shown to have more hospitalizations and have higher health care costs. Women seem to have a disproportionate amount of mobility disability. Results showing that light-intensity physical activity could help with mobility could help a woman have better mobility as she ages.
To view the original scientific study click below:
Evaluation of Light Physical Activity Measured by Accelerometry and Mobility Disability During a 6-Year Follow-up in Older Women