Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 305–310 | Cite as

Physical activity and the older adult: Measurement, benefits, and risks

  • Jennifer S. Brach
  • Andrea M. Kriska
  • Nancy W. Glynn
  • Anne B. Newman


The achievement and maintenance of regular physical activity is prudent in the older adult, but accurate physical activity assessment can be difficult in this population. Factors such as type and intensity of the physical activity, walking speed, gait pattern, and body type should be considered when selecting an assessment measure. Aerobic activity coupled with appropriate resistance training can help not only to achieve better health but also to reach a higher level of function, independence, and quality of life, all of which are critical to the older adult.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References and Recommended Reading

  1. 1.
    Caspersen CJ, Powell KE, Christenson GM: Physical activity, exercise, and fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public Health Rep 1985, 100:126–131.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    US Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 1996.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nelson ME, Rejeski WJ, Blair SN, et al.: Physical activity and public health in older adults: recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Med Sci Sports 2007, 39:1435–1445.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Astrand PO: Physical activity and fitness. Am J Clin Nutr 1992, 55(6 Suppl):1231S–1236S.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kriska AM, Caspersen CJ: Introduction to the collection of physical activity questionnaires. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1997, 29:S5–S9.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Yusuf HR, Croft JB, Giles WH: Leisure-time physical activity among older adults: United States, 1990. Arch Intern Med 1996, 156:1321–1326.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Washburn RA, Smith KW, Jette AM, Janney CA: The Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE): development and evaluation. J Clin Epidemiol 1993, 46:153–162.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    DiPietro L, Caspersen CJ, Ostfeld AM, Nadel ER: A survey for assessing physical activity among older adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1993, 25:628–642.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Crouter SE, Schneider PL, Bassett DR: Spring-levered versus piezo-electric pedometer accuracy in overweight and obese adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2005, 37:1673–1679.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Storti KL, Pette KK, Brach JS, et al.: Gait speed and step-count monitor accuracy in community-dwelling older adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2008, 40:59–64.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Marsh AP, Vance RM, Frederick TL, et al.: Objective assessment of activity in older adults at risk for mobility disability. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007, 39:1020–1026.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Schwartz AM, Bassett DR, Moore JB, et al.: Effects of body mass index on the accuracy of an electronic pedometer. Int J Sports Med 2003, 24:588–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    LeMasurier GC, Tudor-Locke C: Comparison of pedometer and accelerometer accuracy under controlled conditions. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2003, 35:867–871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bassett DR, Ainsworth BE, Leggett SR, et al.: Accuracy of five electronic pedometers for measuring distance walked. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996, 28:1071–1077.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Melanson EL, Freedson PS: Validity of the Computer Science and Applications, Inc. (CSA) activity monitor. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1995, 27:934–940.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Nichols JF, Morgan CG, Chabot LE, et al.: Assessment of physical activity with the Computer Science and Applications, Inc Accelerometer: laboratory versus field validation. Res Q Exerc Sport 2000, 71:36–43.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Coleman KL, Smith DG, Boone DA, et al.: Step activity monitor: long-term continuous recording of ambulatory function. J Rehabil Res Dev 1999, 36:8–18.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hartsell H, Fitzpatrick D, Brand R, et al.: Accuracy of a custom-designed activity monitor: implications for diabetic foot ulcer healing. J Rehabil Res Dev 2002, 39:395–400.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Heilbronn LK, de Jonge L, Frisard MI, et al.: Effect of 6-month calorie restriction on biomarkers of longevity, metabolic adaptation, and oxidative stress in overweight individuals: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2006, 295:1539–1548.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Manini TM, Everhart JE, Patel KV, et al.: Daily activity energy expenditure and mortality among older adults. JAMA 2006, 296:171–179.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Cesari M, Kritchevsky S, Bauer DC, et al.: Prognostic value of usual gait speed in well-functioning older people—results from the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. J Am Geriatr Soc 2005, 53:1675–1680.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Gill TM, DiPietro L, Krumholz HM: Role of exercise stress testing and safety monitoring for older persons starting an exercise program. JAMA 2000, 284:342–349.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Church TS, Gill TM, Newman AB, et al.: Maximal fitness testing in sedentary elderly at substantial risk of disability: experience from the LIFE study. J Aging Phys Activity (in press).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Enright PL, McBurnie MA, Bittner V, et al.: The 6-min walk test: a quick measure of functional status in elderly adults. Chest 2003, 123:387–398.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Newman AB, Haggerty CL, Kritchevsky S, et al.: Walking performance and cardiovascular response: associations with age and morbidity—the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. J Gerontol Med Sci 2003, 58A:M715–M720.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Simonsick EM, Fan E, Fleg JL: Estimating cardiorespiratory fitness in well-functioning older adults: treadmill validation of the long distance corridor walk. J Am Geriatr Soc 2006, 54:127–132.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Bijnen FC, Caspersen CJ, Feskens EJ, et al.: Physical activity and 10-year mortality from cardiovascular diseases and all causes: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Arch Intern Med 1998, 158:1499–1505.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Morgan K, Clarke D: Customary physical activity and survival in later life: a study in Nottingham, UK. J Epidemiol Community Health 1997, 51:490–493.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Patel K, Coppin A, Manini T, et al.: Midlife physical activity and mobility in older age: the InCHIANTI study. Am J Prev Med 2006, 31:217–224.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Brach JS, Simonsick EM, Kritchevsky S, et al.: The association between physical function and lifestyle activity and exercise in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. J Am Geriatr Soc 2004, 52:502–509.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Sui X, Laditka JN, Hardin JW, Blair SN: Estimated functional capacity predicts mortality in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 2007, 55:1940–1947.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Brach JS, Fitzgerald S, Newman AB, et al.: Physical activity and functional status in community-dwelling older women: a fourteen-year prospective study. Arch Intern Med 2003, 24:2565–2571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Rejeski WJ, Fielding RA, Blair SN, et al.: The lifestyle interventions and independence for elders (LIFE) pilot study: design and methods. Contemp Clin Trials 2005, 26:141–154.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Katula JA, Kritchevsky SB, Guralnik JM, et al.: Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders pilot study: recruitment and baseline characteristics. J Am Geriatr Soc 2007, 55:674–683.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Pahor M, Blair SN, Espeland M, et al.: Effects of a physical activity intervention on measures of physical performance: results of the lifestyle interventions and independence for elders pilot (LIFE-P) study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2006, 61:1157–1165.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    The Diabetes Prevention Program (DDP) Research Group: The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP): description of lifestyle intervention. Diabetes Care 2002, 25:2165–2171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    The Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group: The Diabetes Prevention Program: baseline characteristics of the randomized cohort. Diabetes Care 2000, 23:1619–1629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Knowler WC, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler SE, et al.: Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metfomin. N Engl J Med 2002, 346:393–403.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Crandall J, Schade D, Ma Y, et al.: The influence of age on the effects of lifestyle modification and metformin in prevention of diabetes. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2006, 61:1075–1081.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Hakim AA, Petrovitch H, Burchfiel CM, et al.: Effects of walking on mortality among nonsmoking retired men. N Engl J Med 1998, 338:94–99.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Hakim AA, Curb JD, Petrovitch H, et al.: Effects of walking on coronary heart disease in elderly man: the Honolulu Heart Program. Circulation 1999, 100:9–13.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Gardner MM, Robertson CM, Campbell AJ: Exercise in preventing falls and fall related injuries in older people: a review of randomised controlled trials. Br J Sports Med 2000, 34:7–17.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Current Medicine Group LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer S. Brach
    • 1
  • Andrea M. Kriska
  • Nancy W. Glynn
  • Anne B. Newman
  1. 1.Department of Physical TherapyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations