Better Mobility Keeps Seniors Healthier

 Study examines factors that impact health-related quality-of-life for seniors

San Diego, August 8, 2007 – As people lose the ability to walk unaided, they tend to suffer further deterioration that can interfere with other daily living activities. As the U.S. population ages, it becomes increasingly important to identify and target interventions for those people who are at risk for further disabilities and illness. In a paper published in the September issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers closely examined the factors that affected Health-Related Quality-of-Life for a group of older Americans. The study revealed that mobility is a key factor impacting quality of life for older adults.

Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders–Pilot study (LIFE–P) was a randomized, controlled trial that compared a physical activity intervention to a non-exercise educational intervention with 424 older adults at risk for disability. Baseline information included demographics, medical history, the Quality of Well-Being Scale (QWB-SA), a timed 400 m walk, and the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB). Using these data, the authors looked for those factors that affected HRQOL.

The mean QWB-SA score for a sample of older adults considered at risk for disability was 0.634, below the 0.704 score found for healthy older adults. According to Erik J. Groessl, PhD, of the VA San Diego Healthcare System and University of California San Diego, the difference of 0.070 is "more than the amount attributed to a variety of diseases including colitis, migraine, arthritis, stroke, ulcer, asthma, and anxiety….Surprisingly, however, mobility was a stronger correlate of HRQOL than an index of comorbidity, suggesting that interventions addressing mobility limitations may provide significant health benefits to this population. …Taken together with past research, which has demonstrated that loss of mobility predicts loss of independence, mortality, and nursing home admission, it is clear that interventions that can preserve or improve mobility in older adults could produce increases in both quantity and quality of life."

These results highlight the need to develop effective interventions for older adults at risk for disability.

The article is "Health-Related Quality of Life in Older Adults at Risk for Disability" by Erik J. Groessl, PhD, Robert M. Kaplan, PhD, W. Jack Rejeski, PhD, Jeffrey A. Katula, PhD, Abby C. King, PhD, Georita Frierson, PhD, Nancy W. Glynn, PhD, Fang-Chi Hsu, PhD, Michael Walkup, MS, and Marco Pahor, MD. It appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 33, Issue 3 (September 2007) published by Elsevier.

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Full text of the article is available upon request; contact to obtain copies. To request an interview with the lead author, please contact

About The American Journal of Preventive Medicine
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine is the official journal of The American College of Preventive Medicine and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research. It publishes articles in the areas of prevention research, teaching, practice and policy. Original research is published on interventions aimed at the prevention of chronic and acute disease and the promotion of individual and community health. The journal features papers that address the primary and secondary prevention of important clinical, behavioral and public health issues such as injury and violence, infectious disease, women's health, smoking, sedentary behaviors and physical activity, nutrition, diabetes, obesity, and alcohol and drug abuse. Papers also address educational initiatives aimed at improving the ability of health professionals to provide effective clinical prevention and public health services. The journal also publishes official policy statements from the two co-sponsoring organizations, health services research pertinent to prevention and public health, review articles, media reviews, and editorials.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine is ranked 11th out of 98 Public, Environmental & Occupational Health titles and 16th out of 103 General and Internal Medicine titles according to the Thomson Scientific Institute for Scientific Information's 2006 Journal Citation Reports.

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