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Calvin H. Hirsch, Paula Diehr, Anne B. Newman, Shirley A. Gerrior, Charlotte Pratt, Michael D. Lebowitz and Sharon A. Jackson

Little is known about how many years of life and disability-free years seniors can gain through exercise. Using data from the Cardiovascular Health Study, the authors estimated the extra years of life and self-reported healthy life (over 11 years) and years without impairment in activities of daily living (over 6 years) associated with quintiles of physical activity (PA) in older adults from different age groups. They estimated PA from the Minnesota Leisure Time Activities Questionnaire. Multivariable linear regression adjusted for health-related covariates. The relative gains in survival and years of healthy life (YHL) generally were proportionate to the amount of PA, greater among those 75+, and higher in men. Compared with being sedentary, the most active men 75+ had 1.49 more YHL (95% CI: 0.79, 2.19), and the most active women 75+ had 1.06 more YHL (95% CI: 0.44, 1.68). Seniors over age 74 experience the largest relative gains in survival and healthy life from physical activity.

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Roland J. Thorpe Jr., Regina A. Kreisle, Lawrence T. Glickman, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Anne B. Newman and Stephen Kritchevsky

Pet ownership among older adults was investigated to determine whether dog owners were more likely to engage in physical activity than non-dog-pet or non–pet owners. The relationship between pet ownership and physical activity was examined using data from the Health ABC study. After age, race, education level, number of assets, family income, and site were adjusted for dog owners were more likely than non–pet owners to have engaged in non-exercise-related walking in the preceding week but did not differ from non–pet owners in walking for exercise or any physical activity. In contrast, non-dog-pet owners did not differ from non–pet owners in non-exercise-related walking in the preceding week and were less likely than non–pet owners to have engaged in walking for exercise or any physical activity in the preceding week. The activity-related benefits of pet ownership in older adults were limited to dog owners, who engaged in greater overall physical activity—non-exercise-related walking, in particular. Whether pet-related physical activity is sufficient to provide health benefits requires longitudinal investigation.

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Timothy S. Church, Thomas M. Gill, Anne B. Newman, Steven N. Blair, Conrad P. Earnest and Marco Pahor

Background:

The authors sought to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of maximal fitness testing in sedentary older individuals at risk for mobility disability.

Methods:

Maximal cycle-ergometer testing was performed at baseline and 6 and 12 months later in a subset of LIFE-P study participants at the Cooper Institute site. The mean age of the 20 participants (80% female) tested was 74.7 ± 3.4 years. The following criteria were used to determine whether participants achieved maximal effort: respiratory-exchange ratio (RER) ≥1.1, heart rate within 10 beats/min of the maximal level predicted by age, and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) >17.

Results:

Participants’ mean peak VO2 was 12.1 (3.7) mL · kg–1 · min–1. At baseline testing, only 20% of participants attained an RER ≥1.10, only 35% achieved a peak heart rate within 10 beats of their age-predicted maximum, and 18% had an RPE of >17. Subsequent testing at 6 and 12 months produced similar results.

Conclusions:

In this pilot study of sedentary older persons at risk for mobility disability, very few participants were able to achieve maximal effort during graded cycle-ergometer testing.

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Richard J. Havlik, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Kim Sutton-Tyrrell, Anne Newman, Michelle E. Danielson, Dwight B. Brock, Marco Pahor, Edward Lakatta, Harold Spurgeon and Peter Vaitkevicius

Although it is well established that stiff blood vessels contribute to systolic hypertension and increased cardiovascular disease with aging, risk factors for vascular stiffness are still being defined. The Health, Aging, and Body Composition study is a longitudinal investigation of the determinants of physical-functional decline in a well-functioning biracial cohort of 3,075 men and women, age 70–79, in Pittsburgh, PA, and Memphis, TN. Aortic pulse-wave velocity (APWV), an index of vascular stiffness, was measured in 2,488 participants. Self-reported physical activity and exercise habits and fitness/walking endurance were also assessed. Moderate or greater physical activity, exercise, and fitness variables were independently associated with less vascular stiffness, even after inclusion of heart rate, visceral fat, and other correlates of APWV. Physical activity’s association with APWV was particularly strong when levels of physical activity were quite low, suggesting that a minimal amount of physical activity might be sufficient to reduce arterial stiffness in older adults.

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Marquis Hawkins, Anne B. Newman, Magdalena Madero, Kushang V. Patel, Michael G. Shlipak, Jennifer Cooper, Kirsten L. Johansen, Sankar D. Navaneethan, Ronald I. Shorr, Eleanor M. Simonsick and Linda F Fried

Background:

Physical activity (PA) may play a role in preserving kidney health. The purpose of this study was to determine if PA and sedentary behavior are associated with incident chronic kidney disease (CKD) and change in kidney function in older adults.

Methods:

The Health, Aging, and Body Composition study is a prospective cohort of 3075 well-functioning older adults. PA and television watching was measured by self-report, and serum cystatin C was used to estimate glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). CKD was defined as an eGFR <60 ml/min/1.73m2. Rapid kidney function decline was defined as an annual loss in eGFR of >3ml/min/1.73m2. Discrete survival analysis was used to determine if baseline PA and television watching were related to 10-year cumulative incidence of CKD and rapid decline in kidney function.

Results:

Individuals who reported watching television >3 hours/day had a higher risk of incident CKD (HR 1.34; 95% CI, 1.09-1.65) and experiencing a rapid decline in kidney function (HR 1.26; 95% CI, 1.05-1.52) compared with individuals who watched television <2 hours/day. PA was not related to either outcome.

Conclusions:

High levels of television watching are associated with declining kidney function; the mechanisms that underlie this association need further study.

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Brittney S. Lange-Maia, Jane A. Cauley, Anne B. Newman, Robert M. Boudreau, John M. Jakicic, Nancy W. Glynn, Sasa Zivkovic, Thuy-Tien L. Dam, Paolo Caserotti, Peggy M. Cawthon, Eric S. Orwoll, Elsa S. Strotmeyer and for the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) Study Group

We determined whether sensorimotor peripheral nerve (PN) function was associated with physical activity (PA) in older men. The Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study Pittsburgh, PA, site (n = 328, age 78.8 ± 4.7 years) conducted PN testing, including: peroneal motor and sural sensory nerve conduction (latencies, amplitudes: CMAP and SNAP for motor and sensory amplitude, respectively), 1.4g/10g monofilament (dorsum of the great toe), and neuropathy symptoms. ANOVA and multivariate linear regression modeled PN associations with PA (Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly [PASE] and SenseWear Armband). After multivariable adjustment, better motor latency was associated with higher PASE scores (160.5 ± 4.8 vs. 135.6 ± 6.7, p < .01). Those without versus with neuropathy symptoms had higher PASE scores (157.6 ± 5.3 vs. 132.9 ± 7.1, p < .01). Better versus worse SNAP was associated with slightly more daily vigorous activity (9.5 ± 0.8 vs. 7.3 ± 0.7, p = .05). Other PN measures were not associated with PA. Certain PN measures were associated with lower PA, suggesting a potential pathway for disability.