Physical Activity Type in Midlife Affects Mobility in Seniors

Physical activity has long been linked to healthy aging, though a recent study has uncovered results revealing that not all activity is created equal. Strenuous occupational physical activity in midlife might increase the risk of mobility limitation in old age, while leisure-time physical activity decreases the risk, according to a recent study.

The study looked at different kinds of physical activity to determine how each could potentially impact mobility and physical fitness later in life, and it found that there is a difference between those who participate in leisure activity and those who participate in more strenuous work-related activity.

Studies published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, have shown that seated desk work can have negative health and mobility repercussions as we age. A new study suggests that physically demanding jobs can also impact function later in life.

Heavy physical labor often is repetitive, wears the body and lasts for several hours a day. In contrast, leisure-time physical activity is designed to improve fitness and typically lasts for one hour. Even though both are based on muscle activity and result in energy expenditure, their long-term consequences are different.

The study distinguished between occupational activity, defined as being related to one’s job or primary daily occupation, and leisure-time activity, which comprises exercise, sports and general fitness. The primary purpose of the study was to understand the impact of leisure-time physical activity (LPA) and occupational physical activity (OPA) on mobility limitations among older adults.

Subjects who engaged in vigorous OPA in midlife had fewer limitations in old age than those whose OPA levels were light. However, subjects who participated in vigorous LPA in midlife had fewer mobility limitations in old age than those who were inactive in midlife.

Findings suggest that LPA and OPA in midlife have independent, inverse effects on mobility in old age in terms of harmful effects of vigorous OPA and a protective effect of vigorous LPA, the authors concluded.

Resource: IDEA Fitness Journal

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