Exercising is beneficial for all seniors, even for those who are weak, finds a new study. Just three months of exercise is suffice to gain physical and cognitive benefits which also improves overall quality of life among the elderly.
But these benefits appear after only three month, said Dr. Louis Bherer, PhD (Psychology), Laboratory Director and Researcher at the Institut universitaire de geriatrie de Montreal (IUGM), an institution affiliated with Universite de Montreal, who carried out the study.
This discovery is excellent news, as increased life expectancy has also increased the number of frail seniors in our communities.
In geriatrics, frailness is characterized by decreased functional reserves in an individual, which increases vulnerability to stressors and the risk of adverse health effects.
Frailty is associated with a higher risk of falls, hospitalizations, cognitive decline and psychological distress.
"For the first time, frail senior citizens have participated in a study on exercise thanks to the collaboration of medical doctors at IUGM, who provided close medical supervision. My team was able to demonstrate that sedentary and frail senior citizens can benefit from major improvements not only in terms of physical function but also brain function, such as memory, and quality of life," stated Dr. Bherer.
In this study, 43 of the 83 participants between the ages of 61 and 89 years, some of whom were considered frail, took part in group exercises (3 times a week for 12 weeks), while the control group of 40 participants did not follow the exercise program.
Compared to the control group, trained participants showed larger improvement in physical capacity (functional capacities and physical endurance), cognitive performance (executive functions, processing speed and working memory) and quality of life (overall quality of life, recreational activities, social and family relationships and physical health).
Most importantly, benefits were equivalent among frail and non-frail participants suggesting that there isn't never too late to engage in exercise intervention programs.
"We hope to adapt the exercise program used in the study and make it available to the public through the seniors' health promotion center that the IUGM is developing. We believe that by transferring our research findings to the public, we will help both healthy and frail senior citizens stay at home longer," Dr. Bherer concluded.
These findings were published online on the Web site of the Journals of Gerontology.