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  • Author: Cassandra M. Germain x
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John A. Batsis, Cassandra M. Germain, Elizabeth Vásquez, Francisco Lopez-Jimenez and Stephen J. Bartels

Physical activity (PA) improves function in older obese adults. However, body mass index is an unreliable adiposity indicator better reflected by waist circumference (WC). The impact of PA on physical impairment and mobility with high WC is unclear. We performed a secondary data analysis of 4,976 adults ≥ 60 years of age using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005–2010. Physical limitations (PL), activities of daily living (ADL) impairments, and PA (low = < 1 day/week or high = > 1 day/week) were self-reported. WC was dichotomized (females: 88 cm; males: 102 cm). Mean age was 70.1 years and 55.1% were female. Prevalence of PL and ADL impairment in the high WC group were 57.7% and 18.8%, respectively, and high PA was present in 53.9%. Among those with high WC, high PA vs. low PA participants were at lower risk of PL (OR 0.58 [0.48−0.70]) and ADL impairment (OR 0.46 [0.32−0.65]). Those with high WC had higher odds of PL irrespective of PA (high PA: OR 1.57 [1.30−1.88]; low PA: OR 1.52 [1.29−1.79]) and ADL impairment (high PA: OR 1.27 [1.02−1.57] and low PA: OR 1.24 [0.99−1.54]). High PA in viscerally obese individuals is associated with impairments.

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John A. Batsis, Cassandra M. Germain, Elizabeth Vásquez, Alicia J. Zbehlik and Stephen J. Bartels

Objectives:

Physical activity reduces mobility impairments in elders. We examined the association of physical activity on risk of subjective and objective physical function in adults with and at risk for osteoarthritis (OA).

Methods:

Adults aged ≥ 60 years from the longitudinal Osteoarthritis Initiative, a prospective observational study of knee OA, were classified by sex-specific quartiles of Physical Activity Score for the Elderly scores. Using linear mixed models, we assessed 6-year data on self-reported health, gait speed, Late-Life Function and Disability Index (LLFDI) and chair stand.

Results:

Of 2252 subjects, mean age ranged from 66 to 70 years. Within each quartile, physical component (PCS) of the Short Form-12 and gait speed decreased from baseline to follow-up in both sexes (all P < .001), yet the overall changes across PASE quartiles between these 2 time points were no different (P = .40 and .69, males and females, respectively). Decline in PCS occurred in the younger age group, but rates of change between quartiles over time were no different in any outcomes in either sex. LLFDI scores declined in the 70+ age group. Adjusting for knee extensor strength reduced the strength of association.

Conclusions:

Higher physical activity is associated with maintained physical function and is mediated by muscle strength, highlighting the importance of encouraging physical activity in older adults with and at risk for OA.