In a 2022 study looking into the effects of increased physical group activity on people over the age of 65 is the first to show the long lasting improvements in older people and their overall health and mobility.
A group of 777 people over the age of 65 (average age of 78), many of whom had mobility issues that negatively impacted their quality of life, took part in a 12 month study to look into the benefits of group activity on improving over all mobility and health. Previous research has shown that regular physical activity improves mobility and the chances of living independently. However, it was not known if benefits were sustained in the long-term.
The participants, all aged over 65, were split into two groups. The first group received 12 months of regular group exercise sessions. Charity or leisure centre staff delivered exercise sessions in the community to groups of up to 15. They personalised exercises according to each person’s abilities and encouraged socialising afterwards. The sessions promoted regular group exercise classes which focused on strength, balance, mobility and cardiovascular fitness, and were intended to be fun, socially interactive, and to build a community. A comparison group received nothing more than advice on healthy ageing. The advice did not refer to exercise, instead, how to achieve a healthier lifestyle. A year after the programme ended, researchers compared mobility levels between the exercise group and the advice group.
The researchers found that people in the exercise group were more mobile than those in the advice group at 24 months (a year after the sessions stopped), and had reported that their felt more mobile, and overall used less health and social care in the long term.
The researchers say this is the first study to show long-lasting improvements in older people with reduced mobility. They found that the 12 month REACT programme improved mobility, and that improvements were sustained for 12 months after the sessions had stopped. Participants in the exercise group attended most sessions, which suggests that they enjoyed going.
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