Rewards of Exercise Don't Stop with Age

Exercise programs kept elderly Asian population more pain free and mobile

(RxWiki News) Even in old age, physical activity can keep the body moving like it’s young. Being free to move and having less pain are always good.

A study presented at a conference found that exercise programs could continue to benefit older people, particularly the Asian American population, by improving overall health and mobility and decreasing pain later in life.

According to the researchers, the older Asian population might enjoy a higher quality of life with less pain and discomfort in their muscles, joints and bones by exercising.

"Look for exercise programs in your area."

This study, which was led by Huijuan Huang, MPA, from the Department of Education and Academic Affairs at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, aimed to see how an exercise program affected older Asian Americans’ risk for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

The study included 63 Asian American participants from New York. Most of the participants were women over age 65.

According to the researchers, the older Asian population in New York is more than twice as likely to have no health insurance compared to other ethnic groups.

The participants attended four sessions of the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (AFEP), consisting mainly of chair-based exercises and some beginner yoga classes. The program aimed to increase physical activity; decrease pain, stiffness and fatigue; and improve balance.

Bilingual instructors at one of three senior centers in Chinatown conducted the program, which was offered between November 2011 and September 2013.

Each of the participants reported their level of pain, level of physical activity and any falls they might have had before starting the exercise program and afterwards. The researchers also factored in participants’ level of pain and pain intensity in their joints and muscles.

Before the exercise program, about 84 percent of the participants reported having pain. By the end of the program, the proportion of participants who reported having pain dropped to 62.3 percent.

The average pain intensity level also dropped from 6.0 points to 4.4 points, the researchers found.

About 89 percent of the participants said they were less fatigued after completing the exercise program. And 92 percent of the participants reported that they were also less stiff.

“The study results indicate that the hospital’s Bone Health Initiative has a positive impact on the musculoskeletal health of the Asian senior population,” Huang said in a press release.

Rusty Gregory, a certified wellness coach and dailyRx Contributing Expert, says that the elderly have much to gain from an exercise program.

"When exercising regularly, they will increase their balance, mobility, confidence and energy levels, as well as alleviate pain and stiffness associated with weakness and arthritis in their musculoskeletal system," he said. "Exercise also provides the elderly with a greater sense of well-being."

This study was presented November 5 at the 141st APHA Annual Meeting and Expo. The authors did not declare any conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
November 11, 2013