Stay active, stay independent

Adults above 45 years of age who are more physically active are less likely to experience functional limitations and psychological distress

Man playing tennis
Staying active is important if you want to retain your functional faculties

With age we start experiencing functional limitations and can’t perform some activities as well as we performed when we were younger. In a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers from Australia have found that this happens typically in those people who experience psychological distress. In fact, it was found that those who experienced any level of psychological distress were more than four times likely to experience functional limitation than those who did not.

Psychological distress has previously been linked to reduced physical activity and increased functional limitation across a range of age groups. A separate study also indicated that approximately 30 per cent of reductions in physical activity, and increases in psychological distress over time, are due to functional limitations and chronic health problems.

“Our findings can influence the emphasis that we place on older adults to remain active,” Kolt notes. “With greater levels of physical activity, more positive health gains can be achieved, and with greater physical function (through physical activity), greater independence can be achieved,” said lead researcher Gregory Kolt, PhD, of the University of Western Sydney, School of Science and Health.

The research group analysed data from nearly 100,000 Australian men and women, aged 65 and older, who participated in the 45 and Up Study. Information was sought on self-reported physical activity engagement, physical function, psychological distress, age, smoking history, education, height, and weight.

Results also revealed that older adults who are more physically active are less likely to experience functional limitations and hence are able to lead an independent life. So, start increasing your activity levels while you still can.




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