Physical Activity is a Must for Maintaining Health When We are Elderly...But How Much is Needed?

in science •  last year

Hello everyone, today we are going to briefly discuss the major finding of an article recently published in PLoS One titled "Dose of physical activity, physical functioning and disability risk in mobility-limited older adults: Results from the LIFE study randomized trial.".

In this article the authors were studying the effects that physical activity had on keeping elderly people able to move around. What they were interested in for this study was trying to identify the minimum amount of activity that was necessary to still result in positive mobility and general health outcomes for the elderly.

Many of us have elderly grandparents, parents, and some of us probably plan on getting old at some point in our own lives as well. So studies like this that can better influence public health information and can lead to better doctors recommendations for activity levels as we age can end up having a profound effect on the quality of life that we and our loved ones will have as we inevitably feel the effects of time on our bodies.

Let us not belabor this article with a huge amount of background, but rather jump as quickly as we can into discussing the results and conclusions of the study.



Physical Inactivity In Health

Many of you may be surprised to find out that one of the biggest risk factors to our elderly loved ones becoming disabled (aka having some limitations in their ability to move around) is actually a lack physical activity. [2]

Perhaps though, if I phrase it in a different way it isn't as surprising. Exercise has been found to be linked to a drastic reduction in health issues in older people. Studies have shown that the chances of common ailments of the elderly which effect mobility including falling, broken hips, and heart disease are all improved by exercise.[3], [4], [5]

What Did The Authors Study Here

This was a 2.6 year study involving over 1600 people between the ages of 70 and 89 years. Each of the participants had some difficulties getting around, and as a part of the study they were put on to an exercise plan involving walking, flexibility and some strength training.

An Accelerometer (well the inside of one)

The participants were also told to wear an accelerometer (not a pedometer to measure steps, rather something that can measure all of their motion, like what is in your smartphone) to measure how much they were moving about. The amount of movement a participant had (in activity counts per minute from the accelerometer, more counts = more activity) was quantified and the participants were binned into groups: Q1 (less than 695 counts per minute per week), Q2(between 695 and 752 counts/min), Q3(between 752 and 803 counts/min) and Q4 (greater than 803 counts/min).

The mobility of the participants was then assessed throughout the study based on the amount of time it took for them to walk 400 meters. The faster they were able to move an complete the walk, the better.

What Did They Find?

Reproduced from Figure 2

What we are looking at to the left is some of the data generated by the study. Here on the X-axis we see the different duration times that the study went on, and the Y axis is the change in how fast the participants were able to complete the 400 m walk from when they began the study. We can see a few things from this, the first is that as people age (as the duration in time the study went on) everyone has a harder time walking (they all slowed down, the bars became more and more negative).

However remember the Q1 - Q4 represent the general activity level of the participants based on the accelerometer data, here you can see a clear trend that increased activity results in the parcipants being able to first walk the distance faster, and then as time goes on, see less of a decrease. Those who were less active saw the greatest decrease in their walking speeds (Q1, the black bars). This data is not surprising, we already know that exercise helps people with their mobility.

However maybe you might be interested in the difference in activity levels between those different groups based upon the accelerometry data. The authors report that the difference between Q1 (the least active people) and Q4 (the most active people) amounted to a whopping 43 minutes over the course of a week! So now take a look at the data above again, and realize that with the addition of as little as 43 minutes of exercise per week, participants in this study (Q4) showed no loss in mobility over a period of 2 years, from where they started.

Forty Three Minutes Per Week! That is so very little! For such an improvement in the ability of people to move around as they age!

Conclusions

Through use of accelerometers to measure actual activity levels of participants, the authors have identified that increasing physical activity levels by as little as 43 minutes per week can result in drastic improvements in long term abilities for elderly people to move around. This looks like very compelling evidence that for those stubborn family members who say they don't want to exercise because it's too much effort for too little gain... it might not even be that much effort required (just 43 minutes). The gain could be years more being able to walk around, and a drastically improved quality of life.

Sources

Text Sources

  1. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0182155
  2. http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev.pu.13.050192.002345
  3. http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/34/1/7
  4. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/195504
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8205662

Image Sources

  1. Image 1
  2. Image 2

All Non Cited Images Are From Pixabay.com, Flickr.com, Pexels.com, or Wikipedia.com And Are Available For Reuse Under Creative Commons Licenses

Any Gifs Are From Giphy.com and Are Also Available for Use Under Creative Commons Licences

If you like this work, please consider giving me a follow: @justtryme90. I am here to help spread scientific knowledge and break down primary publications in such a way so as to cut through the jargon and provide you the main conclusions in short (well compared to the original articles at least!) and easy to read posts.

SteemSTEM

Secondly, please consider supporting the @steemstem project. SteemSTEM is a community driven project which seeks to promote well written/informative Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics postings on Steemit. The project not only curates STEM posts on the platform through both voting and resteeming, but also re-distributes curation rewards as STEEM Power, to members of Steemit's growing scientific/tech community.

To learn more about the project please join us on steemit.chat (https://steemit.chat/channel/steemSTEM), we are always looking for people who want to help in our quest to increase the quality of STEM (and health) posts on our growing platform, and would love to hear from you!

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

I loved your article and I absolutely agree with it. Exercising helps to increase our metabolism that naturally slows with age, to improve our immune system, lower risk of diseases such as diabetes or osteoporosis. It also improves our strength and flexibility, which help with balance, coordination and reducing the risk of fall.

·

Thanks for giving it a read through. Indeed it is sooo important to remain active as we age. Our bodies biochemistry is complex, and the equlibriums we are used to can change over time, exercising likely keeps certain beneficial proteins being expressed that might not be if we are more sedentary.

one of the biggest risk factors to our elderly loved ones becoming disabled [...] is actually a lack physical inactivity.

Of all the things to miswrite, you chose the main thesis of the article! :p Now elderly people everywhere will be trying to move less!

Forty Three Minutes Per Week! That is so very little!

Indeed. All one needs to do is pick up gardening or something.

Hopefully though people start exercising before they hit 70! A bit too late by then, but still beneficial as the article shows.

·

Try again!

UGH, a lack of physical INACTIVITY... come on brain! I will fix that! :D

·
·

I've been used to work on a standing desk for a while and it beats the hell out of the chair.

By "standing desk" I mean tossing some books on the side and work on the book shelf :P Or any high surface really.

·
·
·

That's an engineering solution. Self made standing desk :D

·
·
·
·

Haha I'm always like that. When I was a kid my mom bought a coffee machine and I grabbed the user's manual and made her some coffee, she was so happy!

A few minutes later she found the paper filters un-opened in the kitchen and she asked.. Wait, how did you make the coffee?

Toilet paper :P

Somehow not finding paper filters didn't stop me from making coffee, sometimes you just gotta use whatever tools you have.

·
·
·
·
·

You must have some quality toilet paper! I am not sure whether mine would actually hold up against the stress of the coffee grounds and the water.

·
·
·
·
·
·

Haha not coffee grounds.. I used Nescafe :P

It must have tasted terrible.

And it holds if you fold the papers enough, I've done it camping a few years ago, also with a clean bandana. :P

·
·
·
·
·
·
·

I am not a coffee drinker but my girlfriend is...

I used Nescafe :P

It must have tasted terrible.

She has confirmed on numerous occasions that terrible is the default taste of Nescafe. :D If anything, maybe your toilet paper filter made it more palatable!

also with a clean bandana.

Oh lord, bandana filtration! Only for the most hardcore coffee drinkers.

Good information here I know it's a positive guide to be a healthy person in general.

·

Indeed, thanks for taking a look at the post. Most appreciated.

It is very good to see scientific grounds on facts that sound logical, so that we could call them fact at the 100% level.

great post... reminds me of my post of last week on how our chair is killing us... @justtryme90 very informative... earned my upvote and following as it seems we have similar interest to educate o health... great work worthy of my support ...

·

Thanks! Indeed too much sitting is killing us. Being up and active is necessary!

·
·

Very true dear... Do check my blog post for the similarities... Keep steeming and good work

Physical activity is Life... Retirement IS the biggest cause of death... stay busy!

·

Yep, do your own yard work, have a garden, take walks, explore the city. Get out and about! Especially as we age!

·
·

...also walk the dogs! Or let them walk you.

You found a good article / study. The main thing is to move around, many old people 80 up just sit around. That is why gardening is so great and walking. Having a dog and I'm not elderly helps me keep moving. My Mother always told me to keep walking. I could go on but I won't. Lol

·

Indeed, all people need to do is move around. What was shocking for me about this study is just how LITTLE movement is needed to have massive effects! We should really all be encouraging our loved ones to get out there and move, could keep them around for years more with out even all that much more effort.

That is why gardening is so great

I think gardening helps people on a psychological level as well, there is something de-stressing about working with your hands and being with nature.

Thanks for digesting that article for us. As a physio this is really useful info I can use to persuade my patients to move a little bit more! Thanks again, upvoted, resteemed and followed!

·

Thanks, it takes so little to have such a pronounced effect!

·

@olayar
good comment and support for a good post... nice work being a physio keep it up and do also share some of your good tips...

Honestly, I feel like able-bodied people who don't naturally get at least 43 minutes a week of exercise are willfully abusing their bodies. It has to feel so terrible to literally sit down during all of your waking moments.

If I don't walk around for at least an hour a day, I feel like garbage. Even that's barely enough. Fitness is such a fundamental thing of life... that's crazy, that people don't even do 43 a week. Damn!!!!

·

@heymattsokol
very correct and as they choose to stay in a place they also feed garbage... nice comment... reminds me of my post on how our chairs are killing us... keep steeming and be healthy!

·

I feel like able-bodied people who don't naturally get at least 43 minutes a week of exercise are willfully abusing their bodies.

Maybe they are depressed, that happens to older people a lot. Or maybe they don't know how much good just a little bit of exercise can do!

Your writing is great .. I think older people are getting old and weak because they are less active and eat more fast food .. So get up and walk :D

·

Thanks for the kind words. The science agrees. Don't even need that much more activity for a drastic improvement to life.

love your post doctor you make nice and full of information post im so happy because of find one doctor here and make post about helath so nice information about Accelerometer. wish the best for you and your family

·

Thanks! :)

Hello @justtryme90
Your post is very accurate, I recommend 1hr per day of physical activity to all my patients over 70. working in the garden or water aerobics depending on past injuries.

SteemSTEM is a great idea.

Any idea whom I would contact to set up a STEEMFEST Vancouver and other events?

thanks,
be well...

·

The authors of the article are right, not really me :) I am just trying to do my best to summarize their findings, so thankfully this means that I am at least likely not distorting anything. (which is important, I try to be true to their data!)

Thank you for the compliments!

Any idea whom I would contact to set up a STEEMFEST Vancouver and other events?

Well the steemit inc community liaison is @andrarchy I believe. So perhaps he would be a good start.

·
·

Your doing a great job with your facts and information.

I will send a message to @andrarchy and let him know of my request to host a STEEMFEST Vancouver and other Steemit events.

Have a great week @justtryme90 YOU ROCK!

Be well...

Physical activity is truly necessary in older people for sure! I've seen people of 90 who look like 60 and that's because they never stopped moving, and they are young in spirit

·

Indeed, and it is important for us to encourage those who are inactive to get more active!

Excellent post. I'm a firm believer that elderly tend to live longer and maintain health when they remain active!

·

The scientific data agrees with you. You don't need to just believe it, you can know it with certainty. :)

·
·

Which is even better lol

·
·
·

Reblogged — let’s promote quality content!

·

Very kind of you! I am trying my best :D

Congratulations @justtryme90, this post is the ninth most rewarded post (based on pending payouts) in the last 12 hours written by a Superhero or Legend account holder (accounts hold greater than 100 Mega Vests). The total number of posts by Superhero and Legend account holders during this period was 18 and the total pending payments to posts in these categories was $1052.20. To see the full list of highest paid posts across all accounts categories, click here.

If you do not wish to receive these messages in future, please reply stop to this comment.

·

I am a Superhero? This I was unaware of :D

I kinda think the only reason I earn the distinction is the lack of posts from accounts of that size...I hope it's actually because my post is a good one though!

Physical activities are good for elderly people. But I also advocate that people should start quite early with it. I once stumbled on this grandma and her incredible workouts.
I was like “Wow, if grandma can do this at this age, she must have started young”

·

Indeed, she will likely be able to hold on to her health for quite a long time!

·

That's one badass granny.

Dancing is lots of fun and a great way to keep your body active. And to aid muscle tone swing around some weights like canned goods, water bottles, books, or whatever is handy.

And to help prevent injuries, whenever you are using stairs, always be sure to carefully watch your every step. Watch how President Trump carefully watches his steps whenever he is going down the stairs from airplanes.

I think it's mainly because the old people are tired that most of them just stop all activities and just sit and relax. If only they kept going, with some daily activities , this will surely help them a lot!
Educating them is also very important and we must know how to explain this to the elders.

It is really a great study. 43 minutes exercise is a good deal to try it and work out. People should be more aware of their health after reading this study, it will give them a reason to enjoy the healthy life.

It's sad how many people died and die early because they were too lazy do devote 43 minutes of their life per week for exercise..

·

Many would be less lazy if they were better informed. Now getting them to actually trust information... that is a different battle.

·
·

Well I disagree with that.. Ok not everyone is aware of the study but almost everyone knows a bit of exercise and a bit of diet can help you add years (and quality!) in your life. But most of us are lazy creatures going for instant gratification instead for long term...

when my greatgranma had a stroke, a silly doctor said 'do not move her, keep her in the bed now', so my grandparents did, insteat of helping her to move around when she felt better... greatgranma become half paralised and spend 5 last years of her life sitting on the bed (a small village didn't have any infrastructure for disabled people, it still doesn't). She was very old lady when it happend (about 90 years old) but still movements could help her a lot!
thank you for a very good article @justtryme90!

·

Thanks for reading :)

·
·

my pleasure :)

@justtryme90 this is a great information and well broken down scientific research. I knew exercise is important for youth and elders but i have never thought of the "amount " that is enough. If 43 minutes per week is consider an optimum time, i would be glad if such information is made freely attached and "advertised" in medias and hospitals. Thanks for doing justice to this article.

·

I am trying my best, thanks. :)

Good information thanks a lot I happy visit my page and support me

nice post @justtryme90 , upvoted & followed .

Be kind to follow me @braveheart22 as well , for quality posts too . Thank you !

Very nice @justtryme90 ...Blessings

·

Thank you @andrewramdas

This post looks very neat, the contents are also very interesting, would you see my post about the little cucumber I get from the forest. @justtryme90