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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2001 Oct;56 Spec No 2:89-94.

Nutrition, physical activity, and quality of life in older adults: summary.

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Department of Epidemiology and Medicine and the Nutritional Sciences Program, University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Seattle, USA.


If health-related quality of life--and not longevity--is the key goal for health promotion, then it is captured only partly by the existing mortality and morbidity indexes. Researchers now urge that government agencies and health care providers begin collecting quality-of-life data on the populations they serve. Adding life to years, not years to life, is the current agenda for productive and successful aging. Policies and programs on aging are increasingly focused on identifying ways to improve quality of life and health status rather than just extending life span. In the Healthy People 2000 report, the chief goal of health promotion was to increase the span of healthy life. The focus was on mortality and morbidity data and symptom checklists as the principal measures of ill health. In contrast, the new emphasis in the Healthy People 2010 report is on quality of life and overall well-being. Helping people to increase life expectancy and improve their quality of life is the primary goal of the Healthy People 2010 report. The authors of this special issue of the Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences are united in the belief that optimal nutrition and physical activity make a significant contribution to the overall quality of life at any age and especially for older adults. The key research challenge lies in deciding which aspects of improved fitness, nutrition, and diet contribute the most to quality-of-life measures. We have attempted to provide a comprehensive review of research on exercise, nutrition, diet, and health in elderly adults. Past studies on diet, nutrition, and fitness have largely addressed biomedical outcomes, pointing to substantial benefits in physical functioning, remission of disease symptoms, and improved health. This special issue goes a step further in assessing the effect of improved nutrition and physical activity on the global quality of life and its four principal domains. Although links between diet and exercise and chronic disease risks have been well documented, more needs to be known about motivations for behavioral change and perceived benefits as assessed using quality-of-life measures. No single segment of our society can benefit more from regularly performed exercise and improved diet than elderly adults. These important articles provide a link between diet and exercise and quality-of-life issues, as outlined in the Healthy People 2010 report.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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