Walking around the ward during hospitalization reduces the length of geriatric patients’ stay in internal wards, according to a new study by Efrat Shadmi, MD, and Anna Zisberg, MD, of the University of Haifa‘s Department of Nursing.

The study, funded by the Israel Science Foundation and published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, surveyed 485 participants ages 70 and up, who were hospitalized for at least 2 days in the internal wards of a hospital in Israel. The participants’ physical condition was examined by means of questionnaires and those who were confined to a bed or immobile were excluded from the study.

Those who were not restricted in mobility were asked about their physical activity during the course of their hospitalization, and based on their answers were divided into two study groups: those who remained in bed or seated next to it and those who walked around their rooms and the ward.

The study found that all of the patients who walked around shortened their hospital stay by an average day and a half compared with those who did not exercise physical mobility. The study also found that those who walked around the ward on the first day of hospitalization shortened their stay more than the others.

According to researchers, older patients might mistakenly believe that when they are hospitalized they must stay in bed. Studies of older adults have shown, however, that the opposite is true.

The study results show that simple intervention to encourage walking in the geriatric internal wards ought to be seriously considered, so as to shorten the length of the geriatric patient’s hospital stay.

[Source: Science Daily]