Little is known about the effects of physical activity on weight loss in older adults.
Participants included 4512 community-dwelling older (≥65 yr) men and women from the Cardiovascular Health Study. Physical activity (PA) was determined from a questionnaire at baseline and subjects were divided into sex-specific PA quartiles. Weight was measured at baseline and annually over the 8 years of follow-up. The influence of PA on longitudinal changes in body weight was examined using mixed models while adjusting for lifestyle variables, sociodemographic characteristics, and disease status.
Body weight declined in a curvilinear manner over time with accelerated weight loss occurring in the final years. Over the 8 yr follow-up period, the least active PA quartile lost 2.72 kg. Weight loss was attenuated by 0.55 kg (20%, P = .057), 0.80 kg (29%, P = .05), and 0.69 kg (25%, P = .016) within the second through fourth PA quartiles. The effects of PA did not differ by gender, but increased with advancing age.
Participation in modest amounts of PA attenuated age-related weight loss by approximately 25% with little additional benefit observed at higher PA levels. This finding adds to the growing number of health outcomes that are positively affected by PA.
The authors are with the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.