Staving off major disability and enhancing the quality of later years in older adults is just a matter of taking a daily 20-minute walk, reveal the results of the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) Study, conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine in collaboration with seven other institutions around the country. The study is published in the May 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Mobility, the ability to walk without assistance, is key to functioning independently. Reduced mobility is common in older adults and is a risk factor for illness, hospitalization, disability, and death.
The LIFE study is the largest randomized controlled trial ever conducted on physical activity and health education in older adults. Coordinated at the University of Florida, Gainesville, the study enrolled 1,635 sedentary men and women aged 70 to 89 who led sedentary lifestyles and were at risk of mobility disability. Participants were recruited from urban suburban, and rural communities around the country, and randomly assigned to either a structured, moderate-intensity physical activity program, or to a health education program focused on topics related to successful aging. The trial examined whether physical activity prevents or delays mobility disability.