Physical Activity Programs Beneficial for Hospitalized Older Adults

Meta-analysis shows improvement in functional capacity for acutely hospitalized older adults
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

MONDAY, Aug. 7, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- In-hospital physical activity programs are beneficial for improving functional capacity of older adults hospitalized due to an acute medical condition, according to a review published online Aug. 3 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Daniel Gallardo-Gómez, from the University of Seville in Spain, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 studies, with 3,842 participants, which assessed the effectiveness of a physical activity-based intervention on at least one functional outcome in people aged 50 years and older hospitalized due to an acute medical condition.

The researchers found that the minimal dose to improve the functional capacity of acute hospitalized older adults was approximately 100 metabolic equivalents of task per day (METs-min/day; ~40 min/day of light-effort or ~25 min/day of moderate-effort activities), while 159 METs-min/day (~70 min/day of light-effort or ~40 min/day of moderate-effort activities) was estimated as the optimal dose. The most efficient intervention was deemed to be ambulation, and the optimal dose was reached at 143 METs-min/day (~50 min/day of slow-paced walking). Seventy-four METs-min/day (~25 min/day of slow-paced walking) was estimated as the minimal effective ambulation dose. Compared with usual care, physical activity interventions resulted in a decrease in the rate of adverse events.

"This meta-analysis has yielded critical information to support the use of physical activity as a core part of the daily routine of acutely hospitalized older adults," the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text

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