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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 May;30(5):715-23.

Physical fitness and functional limitations in community-dwelling older adults.

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  • 1Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Durham Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, NC 27705, USA.



Conceptual models of disability have focused on disease-specific factors as the primary cause of disability. Functional limitations in the performance of basic tasks are considered primary mediators on the causal pathway from disease to disability.


The purpose of this study was to assess the association between three fitness components (cardiorespiratory, morphologic, and strength) and functional limitations.


Analyses employed data collected upon 161 older adults (72.5 +/- 5.1 yr) who agreed to undergo baseline testing in a clinical trial.


After controlling for age, race, sex, education, depressive symptoms, and body mass index, all three fitness components were directly associated with functional limitations (P < 0.05). This study is the first to characterize a broad set of individual fitness components as they relate to functional limitations and the first to examine directly measured cardiorespiratory fitness within the context of existing disability models.


These findings suggest that low fitness is a risk factor for functional decline independent of disease processes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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