Research Brief| Volume 56, ISSUE 1, P141-146, January 2019

Physical Activity and Performance Impact Long-term Quality of Life in Older Adults at Risk for Major Mobility Disability


      Older adults are a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population. Mobility problems that lead to further disability can be addressed through physical activity interventions. Quality of life outcome results are reported from a large trial of physical activity for sedentary older adults at risk for mobility disability.


      Data were from the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders study. This multisite RCT compared physical activity to health education among 1,635 randomly assigned sedentary older adults at risk for mobility disability in 2010–2011. Measures included demographics; comorbidity; a timed 400-meter walk; the Short Physical Performance Battery; and the Quality of Well-Being Scale (0–1.0 scale). Baseline and long-term follow-up (2.6 years) health-related quality of life data were collected as a secondary outcome. Multivariate linear regression modeling was used to examine covariates of health-related quality of life over time in 2017.


      The sample had an overall mean Quality of Well-Being score of 0.613. Both groups declined in quality of life over time, but assignment to the physical activity intervention resulted in a slower decline in health-related quality of life scores (p=0.03). Intervention attendance was associated with higher health-related quality of life for both groups. Baseline characteristics including younger age, fewer comorbid conditions, non-white ethnicity, and faster 400-meter walk times were also associated with higher health-related quality of life over time.


      Declining mobility measured by physical performance is associated with lower quality of life in sedentary older adults. Physical activity interventions can slow the decline in quality of life, and targeting specific subgroups may enhance the effects of such interventions.
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