Effects of exercise on mobility in obese and nonobese older adults

Todd M Manini, Anne B Newman, Roger Fielding, Steven N Blair, Michael G Perri, Stephen D Anton, Bret C Goodpaster, Jeff A Katula, Walter J Rejeski, Stephen B Kritchevsky, Fang-Chi Hsu, Marco Pahor, Abby C King
Obesity 2010, 18 (6): 1168-75
Coupled with an aging society, the rising obesity prevalence is likely to increase the future burden of physical disability. We set out to determine whether obesity modified the effects of a physical activity (PA) intervention designed to prevent mobility disability in older adults. Older adults at risk for disability (N = 424, age range: 70-88 years) were randomized to a 12 month PA intervention involving moderate intensity aerobic, strength, balance, and flexibility exercise (150 min per week) or a successful aging (SA) intervention involving weekly educational workshops. Individuals were stratified by obesity using a BMI >or=30 (n = 179). Mobility function was assessed as usual walking speed over 400 m and scores on a short physical performance battery (SPPB), which includes short distance walking, balance tests, and chair rises. Over 12 months of supervised training, the attendance and total amount of walking time was similar between obese and nonobese subjects and no weight change was observed. Nonobese participants in the PA group had significant increases in 400-m walking speed (+1.5%), whereas their counterparts in the SA group declined (-4.3%). In contrast, obese individuals declined regardless of their assigned intervention group (PA: -3.1%; SA: -4.9%). SPPB scores, however, increased following PA in both obese (PA: +13.5%; SA: +2.5%) and nonobese older adults (PA: +18.6%; SA: +6.1%). A moderate intensity PA intervention improves physical function in older adults, but the positive benefits are attenuated with obesity.

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