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An active mind and body are essential quality-of-life elements for everyone, and this connection holds true for seniors in care facilities. Institutional life can lead to a downward spiral of diminished independence, lack of physical activity, declining physical and mental function, and reduced quality of life. A recent study found that exercise programs developed specifically for institutionalized seniors and adaptable for those with thinking (cognitive) and physical disability were helpful in maintaining health-related quality of life.The study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, included 160 people, age 65 and older, living in nursing care facilities. The participants were randomly assigned to one of the following groups:
At the 6- and 12-month follow-ups the researchers noted the following observations:
“Exercise programs offer promising benefits for the prevention of health-related quality of life decline in institutionalized elderly persons,” the study’s authors conclude. “The cognition-action intervention, which included an adapted guidance for physical activity, tended to provide better and more sustained results than the adapted tai chi intervention.”
Based on this study, it seems that even a little bit of low-intensity exercise each week can benefit seniors, especially when the exercise is adapted to their capabilities and teaches useful skills that aid in life’s daily activities.
(Arch Intern Med 2010;170:162–9)