Researchers in England and Australia have examinied the associations of leisure-time physical activity across adulthood with physical performance and strength in a group of British men and women.
Investigators from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing in the UK, and the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland in Australia, followed 2,400 men and women from the UK Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development who were born in 1946. They analysed self-reported leisure time physical activity (LTPA) levels at 36, 43 and 53 years of age. During the 53-year investigation, grip strength, standing balance, and chair rise times were measured as indicators of strength and physical performance. The results, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, showed cumulative benefits of physical activity across adulthood on physical performance in mid-life.
Lead Investigator Rachel Cooper, from the MRC Unit said: “Increased activity should be promoted early in adulthood ensure the maintenace of physical performance in later life. Promotion of leisure time activity is likely to become incerasingly important in younger populations as people’s daily routines become more sedentary.”
Grip strength is a measure of upper-body muscle condition. Chair-rise times are associated with lower body strength and power, as well as cardiorespiratory fitness. Standing balance requires mental concentration and subtle motor control and measures a number of neurophysiological and sensory systems. Participants who were more active at all three ages showed better performance on the chair-rise test. Persons more active at ages 43 and 53 had better performance on the standing balance test, even after adjusting for covariates. However, physical activity and grip strength were not associated in women and, in men, only physical activity at age 53 was associated with grip strength.
Dr. Cooper added that the findings in relation to chair rising and standing balance performance suggest that promotion of leisure time physical activity across adulthood would have beneficial effects on physical performance later in life and hence the functional health and quality of life of the aging population, especially as the size of the differences in performance detected may be clinically relevant. Click here for more info >