Staying Fit Helps Women as They Age

Day-to-day tasks easier for active older women

MONDAY, Nov. 24, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Older women who are physically active have fewer problems doing basic daily activities, says a study in the Nov. 24 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine.

The 14-year study of 229 postmenopausal white women, with an average age of 74, by University of Pittsburgh researchers examined the long-term association between physical activity and functional status.

The women's physical activity was assessed in 1985, 1995 and 1999 through questionnaires and physical activity monitors. Their functional status was assessed in 1999 using questionnaires about difficulties the women had with daily living activities such as eating, dressing, bathing and walking.

The study concluded that physical activity in 1985 was predictive of the women's walking speed in 1999. It also found that consistency of physical activity from 1985 to 1995 was related to functional status in 1999.

The study found that 17 of 45 women (37.8 percent) who were always active had problems with daily activities compared with 24 of 60 women (40 percent) who were inconsistently active, and 39 of 66 women (59.1 percent) who were always inactive.

"We demonstrate the importance of an active lifestyle to functional status in older, upper socioeconomic class, white women," the study authors write. "We have shown, in a relatively healthy sample, the importance of physical activity in maintaining physical function."

"With people living longer, it is important to prevent the decline in functional status that occurs with age," they continue. "Getting individuals to maintain adequate levels of physical activity across the lifespan could prevent declines in physical function, which could have major public health significance."

More information

Here's where you can learn more about aging and exercise.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, news release, Nov. 24, 2003
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