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Midlife Occupational Physical Activity, Disability Linked

Occupational physical activity has strong direct effect on disability later in life; indirect effect via disease


THURSDAY, May 12, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- High midlife occupational physical activity (PA) is associated with greater decline in functional capacity later in life, according to a study published online May 5 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Celestin Missikpode, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and colleagues examined the correlation between midlife occupational PA and disability in older adults using data from 7,307 individuals aged 65 years and older. Occupational PA levels were classified by linking information from the Occupational Information Network database using standard occupation codes. In-person interviews were conducted to obtain disability outcomes and covariates.

The researchers observed a greater decline in functional capacity later in life for occupations with high physical demands. Compared to individuals with occupations with low PA, those with occupations with high and very-high PA were less likely to be able to perform activities of daily living. Structural equation modelling revealed that occupational PA had a strong direct effect on disability (P < 0.001) and an indirect effect through disease (P = 0.003). High occupational PA had a population attributable fraction of 11 percent.

"Higher midlife occupational PA levels were significantly associated with poorer ability to perform activities of daily living in older age," the authors write. "Performing the optimal level of occupational PA may be instrumental in reducing disability later in life."

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