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Kristen M. Beavers, Fang-Chi Hsu, Monica C. Serra, Veronica Yank, Marco Pahor and Barbara J. Nicklas

Observational studies show a relationship between elevated serum uric acid (UA) and better physical performance and muscle function. The purpose of this paper was to determine whether regular participation in an exercise intervention, known to improve physical functioning, would result in increased serum UA. For this study, 424 older adults at risk for physical disability were randomized to participate in either a 12-mo moderate-intensity physical activity (PA) or a successful aging (SA) health education intervention. UA was measured at baseline, 6, and 12 mo (n = 368, 341, and 332, respectively). Baseline UA levels were 6.03 ± 1.52 mg/dl and 5.94 ± 1.55 mg/dl in the PA and SA groups, respectively. The adjusted mean UA at month 12 was 4.8% (0.24 mg/dl) higher in the PA compared with the SA group (p = .028). Compared with a health education intervention, a 1-yr PA intervention results in a modest increase in systemic concentration of UA in older adults at risk for mobility disability.

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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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Erik J. Groessl, Robert M. Kaplan, Steven N. Blair, W. Jack Rejeski, Jeffrey A. Katula, Abby C. King, Roger A. Fielding, Nancy W. Glynn and Marco Pahor

We examined the costs of a physical activity (PA) and an educational comparison intervention. 424 older adults at risk for mobility disability were randomly assigned to either condition. The PA program consisted of center-based exercise sessions 3× weekly for 8 weeks, 2× weekly for weeks 9 to 24 and weekly behavioral counseling for 10 weeks. Optional sessions were offered during maintenance weeks (25−52). The comparison intervention consisted of weekly education meetings for 24 weeks, and then monthly for 6 months. Cost analyses were conducted from the “payer’s” perspective, with a 1-year time horizon. Intervention costs were estimated by tracking personnel activities and materials used for each intervention and multiplying by national unit cost averages. The average cost/participant was $1134 and $175 for the PA and the comparison interventions, respectively. A preliminary cost/effectiveness analysis gauged the cost/disability avoided to be $28,206. Costs for this PA program for older adults are comparable to those of other PA interventions. The results are preliminary and a longer study is required to fully assess the costs and health benefits of these interventions.

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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.