In a new study, researchers suggest that participating in a regular exercise program may help older adults prevent or delay age-related disabilities that interfere with their ability to perform activities of daily living.

The study included 1,635 adults between the ages of 70 and 89, all of whom were at high risk for becoming physically disabled, notes a media release from the American Geriatrics Society.

At the beginning of the study, all the participants were asked to walk about five city blocks (one-quarter of a mile) without assistance.

Then, the participants were divided into two groups—one group that was encouraged to exercise regularly by taking a daily 30-minute walk, and performing balance training and muscle-strengthening exercises; and another that attended weekly workshops for 26 weeks, followed by monthly sessions.

The workshops provided information about accessing the healthcare system, traveling safely, getting health screenings, and finding reliable sources for health and nutrition education. Following the workshops, the participants were led in 5- to 10-minute flexibility or stretching exercise sessions.

All the participants were tested thoroughly for disability at the beginning of the study and then at 6, 12, 24, and 36 months after the study started.

The researchers report in the release that people in both groups experienced about the same level of disability after the study. However, people in the exercise group experienced a lower level of severe mobility problems than did people who attended the health workshops.

The study was published recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

[Source(s): American Geriatrics Society, Science Daily]