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Active Older Adults Less Likely to Experience Psychological Distress

Update Date: Apr 08, 2012 11:40 PM EDT
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Psychological distress has previously been linked to reduced physical activity and increased functional limitation across a range of age groups.

Psychological distress scores determined by researchers indicated that 8.4% of all older adult participants were experiencing some level of psychological distress, and older adults who experienced a moderate level of psychological distress were the most likely group to experience a functional limitation-almost seven times more likely than those who did not report psychological distress.

"With greater levels of physical activity, more positive health gains can be achieved, and with greater physical function (through physical activity), greater independence can be achieved," researhcers said.

Led by Gregory Kolt, PhD, of the University of Western Sydney, School of Science and Health, researchers analyzed data from nearly 100,000 Australian men and women, aged 65 and older, who participated in the 45 and Up Study. Information was sought on self-reported physical activity engagement, physical function, psychological distress, age, smoking history, education, height, and weight.

"Our findings can influence the emphasis that we place on older adults to remain active," Kolt notes. 

"There is a significant, positive relationship between physical activity and physical function in older adults, with older adults who are more physically active being less likely to experience functional limitation than their more-sedentary counterparts," the researchers wrote in a statement. 

Level of engagement in physical activity is an important predictor of physical function in older adults. 

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