Regular exercise with dietary advice could benefit frail older people

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Scientists from Fondazione Policlinico Universitario found that a program of regular exercise along with expert dietary advice is linked to a reduction in mobility problems among frail older people living in the community.

They found the combination of aerobic (walking), strength, flexibility, and balance exercises alongside personalized nutritional counseling reduced mobility disability by 22% over three years.

The research is published in The BMJ and was conducted by Roberto Bernabei et al.

US and EU data indicate that about 13% of adults aged 70 years and older living in the community have mobility disability, which is linked to poor quality of life, admission to hospital or residential care, and death, as well as greater healthcare costs.

In the study, the team aimed to find out whether a combined intervention of physical activity with technological support and nutritional counseling prevents mobility disability in frail older adults.

They tested 1,519 men and women (average age 79 years) with physical frailty and sarcopenia (a combination of reduced physical function and low muscle mass) recruited from 16 clinical sites.

In all, 760 participants were assigned to the intervention, 759 received education on healthy aging (controls), and all were monitored for up to 36 months.

The intervention group received twice-weekly moderate-intensity physical activity sessions at a center and up to four times weekly at home alongside personalized nutritional counseling.

The team found persistent mobility disability (inability to walk 400 m on two consecutive occasions) occurred in 21% of the intervention group compared with 25% of controls.

Women in the intervention group lost less muscle strength and less muscle mass than control women, but no big group differences were seen in men.

The risk of adverse events was, however, greater among intervention participants (56%) than controls (50%).

The researchers conclude that such an intervention may be proposed as a strategy to preserve mobility in older people at risk of disability.

This fresh evidence confirms the benefits of structured physical activity in community-living older adults.

If you care about wellness, please read studies about exercises that could protect against cognitive decline, and exercises that could help reduce fatty liver disease.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about fruit extract that may reduce muscle soreness by nearly 50% after exercise, and results showing this type of exercise may slow down bone aging.

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