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Physical activity in geriatrics, part 1

Updated: May 20, 2022

Author: Anna Ilyushchenko

Affiliation: Second-year resident

Russian Gerontology Research and Clinical Center, Moscow

Good afternoon, friends!

It’s getting warm and sunny. We’d like to enjoy long walks, rides on bicycles. Everyone know about benefits of physical exercises for health. For geriatric patients physical activity is also useful. Sedentary lifestyle leads to sarcopenia, high risk of falls, chronic pain, and risk of depression.

Exercise prescriptions for older adults should account for the individual's health status and functional capacity. Any amount of exercise is better than being sedentary, even if health status prevents a person from achieving recommended goals. Older adults will derive distinct benefits from aerobic exercise, strength or resistance training, flexibility or stretching exercises, and balance training. [1]

As it turned out, high-intensify exercises are useful for elderly patients. In a randomized controlled trial in a hospital setting, they rated effectiveness and safety of trainings for patients older than 65 years. The trial included 100 patients hospitalized after acute disease for rehabilitation. Two-week rehabilitative program consisted of 4 sessions high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or 3 moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) per week. They rated upper-limb muscle strength (handgrip isometric strength test), lower-limb muscle strength (quadriceps and ankle flexion and extension tests); gait speed and spatio-temporal parameters (instrumented walkway), and exercise capacity (6-min walk test). When analyzing the received data they made a conclusion that high- intensify interval trainings were more effective than continuous moderate-intensify continuous trainings for physical rehabilitation. There were no significant differences in the various measures. No serious adverse events occurred [2]

In addition, what physical exercises are most comfortable for you?

  1. Pearl Guozhu Lee, MD, MS; Elizabeth A. Jackson, MD, MPH; Caroline R. Richardson, MD, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, Michigan Am Fam Physician. 2017 Apr 1;95(7):425-432.

  2. Pires Peixoto, R., Trombert, V., Poncet, A. et al. Feasibility and safety of high-intensity interval training for the rehabilitation of geriatric inpatients (HIITERGY) a pilot randomized study. BMC Geriatr 20, 197 (2020).

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