Study Discovers That Group Exercise Sessions Can Slow the Decline in Mobility of the Elderly March 22, 2022 08:48

As people get older and lose some mobility, their quality of life can suffer.
Research showed that group exercise can prevent people from losing strength as they age and make it easier for them to perform daily tasks. According to the study, just one tailored group-exercise session per week can help prevent mobility decline in people aged 65 and up.

As people get older and lose mobility, it can lead to a lower quality of life, a loss of independence, and significant health and social care costs. It can even shorten one's life expectancy.

Experts predict that the pressure on healthcare systems will increase as the population ages, and three out of every ten older adults are currently classified as disabled due to mobility limitations. Over the course of the two-year study, the NHS saved more money than it paid for the Retirement in Action program (REACT).

Researchers say it should now be implemented nationwide. The program is aimed at older adults who are having difficulty with daily activities such as climbing stairs, walking to the store, or getting out of a chair.

It aims to prevent further decline in mobility through leg strength, balance, and stamina exercises. Fayek Osman, 74, a React participant from Bath, UK, said, "The program improved my well-being because my walking ability and stair climbing are improving." REACT has been extremely beneficial to me and has encouraged me to continue with advanced level activities. It also reinforces my belief that any exercise is preferable to none.

Through REACT, we have shown that this steady decline is avoidable, said Professor Afroditi Stathi of the University of Birmingham. It can be avoided or, in many cases, reversed with an individually tailored and progressive exercise program." At least one REACT exercise session per week appears to be sufficient to provide clinically meaningful improvements in lower limb physical function, and it is extremely cost-effective. This is an important public health message to send to older people in the UK and around the world."

The international research team from the universities of Bath, Birmingham, Exeter, and the University of the West of England (UWE), as well as the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Wake Forest in the United States, claims that REACT can help older people avoid a downward spiral of declining mobility based on the results of a large trial. The trial included 777 people aged 65 and up who were randomly assigned to one of two groups: intervention or control.

The intervention group went to REACT twice a week for three months, then once a week for nine months. Over the course of a year, those in the control group attended three separate healthy aging classes.

To encourage session attendance, each exercise session was followed by 20 minutes of refreshments and socializing. According to the findings, which were published in two papers in the Lancet Public Health, those who attended sessions had significantly greater mobility than those who did not at 24 months.
This suggests that there will be both a short-term and long-term benefit.

According to the researchers, REACT participants found it easier to walk, climb stairs, and perform daily activities with greater independence.
The study indicated at least one strength, balance, and mobility exercise session per week was sufficient to provide meaningful benefits on lower limb function.

"The fact that REACT participants used fewer health and care services makes the REACT program one of the clearest examples of value for money I've seen." The team now hopes that the program can be implemented nationwide through community activity providers in local communities.

"Given these significant results, we are calling on healthcare professionals and policymakers to draw on our findings and implement similar REACT sessions in other parts of the country," said Dr Max Western of the University of Bath's Department for Health. The National Institute for Health Research funded the research (NIHR).

Read the entire study here....