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J Clin Epidemiol. 1989;42(9):895-904.

Risk of functional decline among well elders.

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Brown University Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research, Providence, R.I.


Active lifestyles may delay the onset of the functional consequences of chronic disease, potentially increasing active life expectancy. We analyzed the Longitudinal Study of Aging (LSOA) to test the hypothesis that elders participation in an active lifestyle prevents loss of function. Focusing on the cohort aged 70-74 who reported being able to carry 25 lb, walk 1/4 mile, climb 10 steps and do heavy housework without help and without difficulty at baseline, decline was defined as no longer being able to perform these tasks independently and without difficulty 2 years later. Using multivariate logistic regression, results reveal that those who did not report regularly exercising or walking a mile were 1.5 times more likely to decline than those who did, controlling for reported medical conditions and demographic factors. Similar findings (with different models) were observed for both men and women. Findings suggest the potential value of programs oriented toward the primary prevention of functional decline.

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