Thursday, December 11, 2008

Exercise Counseling May Keep Seniors Going

“A single session of counseling on physical activity with quarterly follow-up calls can help older people avoid disability, new research from Finland shows. But the program didn't help already disabled people to recover, Dr. Mikaela B. von Bonsdorff of the University of Jyvaskyla and her colleagues found. Von Bonsdorff and her team looked at the ability of people to perform relatively complex tasks around the house, such as paying bills, preparing meals, and using the telephone, along with running errands outside the home. These tasks are known collectively as ‘instrumental activities of daily living’ (IADL). There is some evidence that interventions designed to help older people be more active can also help restore their ability to perform such tasks or prevent them from losing the ability to do them. To investigate, the researchers randomly assigned 632 healthy, mentally fit 75- to 81-year-olds who were either sedentary or only moderately physically active to a 1-hour counseling session with a specially trained physiotherapist or a control group that did not have a counseling session, but continued to get advice from their health care and social service providers. The researchers phoned the men and women in the intervention group every 4 months for 2 years to offer encouragement and check on their progress. Overall, the researchers found, the group who received the counseling did become more physically active. Thirty-eight percent of people in the intervention group became more active, while 16 percent decreased their activity, compared to 32 percent and 22 percent for the control group, respectively. Activity levels remained the same for 46 percent of the counseling group and 45 percent of the control group.”

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